Kathryn Davidson

Kathryn Davidson

Assistant Professor in Linguistics
Head of ASL Courses

I'm an assistant professor in Linguistics at Harvard University where my research investigates the unique capacity that we have to understand an infinite number of sentences that we've never heard before (semantics), how we incorporate contextual information into these meanings (pragmatics), and how we ever learn to do this (development). My research questions fall into three main areas:

  • What can visual language tell us about the structure of linguistic meaning, both in full natural languages like American Sign Language and in co-speech gestures to spoken languages?
  • How can we use new tools for collecting linguistic data to create mathematically precise models of the semantic/pragmatic interface?
  • What role does language input, irrespective of modality, play in later linguistic development, such as the support gained by early sign language exposure for deaf children's overall language development?

In my lab we make balanced use of theory for hypothesis creation with psycholinguistic experimental methods for gathering and analyzing behavioral data based on a wide variety of spoken and signed languages. My academic background is in math and theoretical linguistics, and my sign language background began while learning ASL as a student at UCSD.

My CV can be found here, and I can usually be found in Boylston Hall 305.