Professor Adam Schembri BA, DipEd, M.Litt, PhD

Photograph of Dr Adam Schembri

Department of English Language and Linguistics
Professor of Linguistics

Contact details

Address
Frankland Building
University of Birmingham
Edgbaston
Birmingham
B15 2TT
UK

I am a Reader in Linguistics in the Department of English Language and Linguistics at the University of Birmingham.  I teach modules on sociolinguistics, language and gesture, and linguistic diversity. My research focuses on the linguistics of sign languages, especially Australian Sign Language (Auslan) and British Sign Language (BSL).

Qualifications

  • Bachelor of Arts (English Literature), University of Sydney, 1988
  • Diploma in Education (English/English as a Second Language), Sydney College of Advanced Education, 1989
  • Master of Letters (Linguistics), University of Sydney, 1992
  • Diploma in Interpreting (Australian Sign Language/English), Sydney Institute of Technical and Further Education, 1996
  • PhD (Linguistics), University of Sydney. Title: “Issues in the analysis of polycomponential verbs in Australian Sign Language (Auslan)”, 2002

Biography

I began working at the University of Birmingham in January 2016. Prior to that, I was associate professor at La Trobe University in Melbourne (Australia) during 2011-2015, and Senior Research Fellow at the Deafness Cognition and Language (DCAL) Research Centre at University College London during 2006-2010. I was a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Newcastle and Macquarie University (both in Sydney, Australia) during 2003-2006.

Teaching

I teach on the BA and MA programmes on the following modules: Sociolinguistics, Language and Gesture and Exploring Linguistic Diversity. 

Postgraduate supervision

I am currently working with PhD students working on size and shape specifier signs in Russian Sign Language (Maria Kyuseva), on issues in interpretation between African-American Vernacular English and American Sign Language (Sharon Hill) and on co-speech gestures in Polish/English bilinguals (Paulina Poplawksa). I also have a masters student studying mouthing in Greek Sign Language (Ioanna Tsourma).

I am primarily interested in supervising students with an interest in sign language linguistics, gesture studies, as well as sociolinguistic variation and change in both spoken and signed languages.


Find out more - our PhD English Language and Applied Linguistics  page has information about doctoral research at the University of Birmingham.

Research

I am interested in research investigating sign languages and gesture.  I am currently working on an Australian Research Council Linkage Project with Louisa Willoughby (Monash University) and Ramas McCrae (Melbourne Polytechnic) investigating individual differences in second language learners of Australian Sign Language (Auslan).  I am also conducting on-going research on a range of topics (e.g., the lexicon, grammar and variation and change in British Sign Language) with colleagues Kearsy Cormier, Gab Hodge and Max Barber (University College London) as well as Jordan Fenlon (Heriot-Watt University) using data from the BSL Corpus Project (www.bslcorpusproject.org). I also continue to collaborate with Trevor Johnston in Sydney, Australia, on research using the Auslan Corpus.

Other activities

Publications

Recent publications

Article

Bajić, DR, Vermeerbergen, M, Schembri, A & van Herreweghe, M 2021, 'Constituent order in Serbian Sign language declarative clauses', Glossa, vol. 6, no. 1, 39. https://doi.org/10.5334/GJGL.1357

Hodge, G, Sekine, K, Schembri, A & Johnston, T 2018, 'Comparing signers and speakers: Building a directly comparable corpus of Auslan and Australian English', Corpora, vol. 14, no. 1, pp. 63-76. https://doi.org/10.3366/cor.2019.0161

Schembri, A, Cormier, K & Fenlon, J 2018, 'Indicating verbs as typologically unique constructions: Reconsidering verb 'agreement' in sign languages', Glossa, vol. 3, no. 1, 89. https://doi.org/10.5334/gjgl.468

Fenlon, J, Schembri, A & Cormier, K 2018, 'Modification of indicating verbs in British Sign Language: A corpus-based study', Language, vol. 94, no. 1, pp. 84-118. https://doi.org/10.1353/lan.2018.0002

Schembri, A, Fenlon, J, Cormier, K & Johnston, T 2018, 'Sociolinguistic typology and sign languages', Frontiers in Psychology, vol. 9, no. FEB, 200. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2018.00200, https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2018.00200

Johnston, T, van Roekel, J & Schembri, A 2016, 'On the Conventionalization of Mouth Actions in Australian Sign Language', Language and Speech, vol. 59, no. 1, pp. 3-42. https://doi.org/10.1177/0023830915569334

Johnston, T, van Roekel, J & Schembri, A 2016, 'On the Conventionalization of Mouth Actions in Australian Sign Language', Language and Speech, vol. 59, no. 1, pp. 3-42. https://doi.org/10.1177/0023830915569334

Stamp, R, Schembri, A, Evans, BG & Cormier, K 2016, 'Regional Sign Language Varieties in Contact: Investigating Patterns of Accommodation', Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education, vol. 21, no. 1, pp. 70-82. https://doi.org/10.1093/deafed/env043

Fenlon, J, Cormier, K & Schembri, A 2015, 'Building BSL SignBank: The lemma dilemma revisited', International Journal of Lexicography, vol. 28, no. 2, pp. 169-206. https://doi.org/10.1093/ijl/ecv008

Chapter (peer-reviewed)

Schembri, A, Stamp, R, Fenlon, J & Cormier, K 2018, Variation and change in English varieties of British Sign Language. in N Braber & S Jansen (eds), Sociolinguistics in England. 1 edn, Palgrave Macmillan Ltd.

Chapter

Schembri, A, Stamp, R, Fenlon, J & Cormier, K 2018, Variation and change in varieties of British Sign Language in England. in N Braber & S Jansen (eds), Sociolinguistics in England. Palgrave Macmillan, London, pp. 165-188. https://doi.org/10.1057/978-1-137-56288-3_7

Book/Film/Article review

Schembri, A 2017, 'Form, Meaning and Focus in American Sign Language by Miako N.P. Rankin (Review)', Sign Language Studies, vol. 17, no. 2, pp. 281-284. <https://muse.jhu.edu/article/648907/pdf>

Entry for encyclopedia/dictionary

Schembri, A 2017, Australian Sign Language (Auslan). in MJ Ball & JS Damico (eds), The SAGE Encyclopedia of Human Communication Sciences and Disorders. SAGE Publications.

Schembri, A 2017, British Sign Language (BSL). in MJ Ball & JS Damico (eds), The SAGE Encyclopedia of Human Communication Sciences and Disorders. SAGE Publications.

Stamp, R & Schembri, A 2017, Sociolinguistics of sign languages. in MJ Ball & JS Damico (eds), The SAGE Encyclopedia of Human Communication Sciences and Disorders. SAGE Publications.

View all publications in research portal