My research in sign languague started with a term paper in linguistics in 1971. It turned out that the language I was taught at a ”sign language” course, and that I was beginning to analyse, was not a language used by deaf people, but a constructed form consisting of spoken Swedish accompanied with signs. However, I completed the study of this form of sign communication, later referred to as Signed Swedish, and the results were first published in a book in Swedish in 1977 and later in English translation (see List of publications).
Since 1976, my research has been devoted to Swedish Sign Language. The main impetus was that the schools for deaf at that time did not use sign languauge in the education of deaf children, and that parents were not encouraged to learn to sign, something I found inhumane and wanted to change. Also, up till then the language of deaf people had not been given any attention by linguists in Sweden, nor for that matter other sign languages, with the exception of American Sign Language. My studies aimed at showing that signing indeed was a true language. Thus, my research has focused on describing the structure of the language at all levels, including sign, sentence and discourse structure. Some of the studies were included in my doctoral dissertation ”Studies in Swedish Sign Languague” (1983). The results of my early research contributed to the fact that Sweden became the first country in the world to officially recognise sign languague as a the languague of deaf people (1981), and that the official curriculum of the schools for deaf stated that sign language should be the means of communication in the classroom (1983).
More recent research includes studies within cognitive linguistics, especially mental space theory and blending theory, which have proven to be the most useful tools for the analysis of the spatial dimension of signed language. At present, I am studying children’s sign language.
List of publications