Deborah Chen Pichler, PhD
Deborah Chen Pichler grew up in a bilingual environment, traveling frequently between the United States and Taiwan. She began her first informal studies of comparative syntax when, at the age of 12, she was hired by her local Taiwanese American Association to teach spoken Taiwanese to middle school students. Faced with the fact that she didn't know any way to write Taiwanese (there is no standardized written form), Pichler set out to elucidate the rules of Taiwanese syntax on her own. Sadly, she never progressed very far in this task, but the experience whetted her appetite for linguistics. In college, she declared biology as her major but found herself compulsively signing up for elective classes in French, German, Italian, Chinese, and American Sign Language as "diversions." Realizing at last that her interest in the structure of language far outstripped her interest (and abilities) in biology, she entered graduate school in the field of linguistics.
A member of Gallaudet University's Linguistics faculty since 2002, Pichler has taught courses on first- and second-language acquisition, comparative studies (of ASL vs. English or ASL vs. other signed systems), and generative syntax. Her research interests focus on the acquisition of ASL by deaf children and hearing bilinguals (coda children) as well as on the acquisition of ASL as a second language. She is also involved in research on the syntax of Croatian Sign Language, continuing her original interest in investigating the grammar of previously understudied languages.
L1 acquisition of ASL by deaf children; bilingual acquisition of English and ASL by hearing children of deaf parents (codas); L2 acquisition of ASL; cross-linguistic study of sign language syntax
PhD, University of Connecticut, Linguistics
MA, University of Connecticut, Linguistics