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Designed by: Shani Yules, Computing Division, University of Haifa


Current Position

Senior lecturer, Department of Hebrew Language and Department of Communication Disorders, University of Haifa.

Head, Department of Hebrew Language

Academic Degrees

Ph. D. 1999, Sign Language Linguistics, Department of English,  Hebrew University of Jerusalem (Summa Cum Laude).

M.A.   1988, Linguistics, Department of English, Hebrew University of Jerusalem (Summa Cum Laude).

Thesis Title

“Thematic structure and verb agreement in Israeli Sign Language”. Advisors: Dr. Yehuda Falk, Dr. Wendy Sandler.

Research Overview

My research interests lie in studying the universal properties of human language, irrespective of the physical modality; the interaction between linguistic structure and the physical modality through which the  language is transmitted; the interaction between linguistic structure and other conceptual categories, such as spatial relations; the course of development of languages. In order to tackle these issues, I study two types of languages – sign languages (Israeli Sign Language and a sign language that emerged recently in a Bedouin community) and spoken languages (mainly Modern Hebrew).

My research on sign languages focuses on:

1. development of sign languages – both ISL and the Bedouin Sign Language (with my colleagues Wendy Sandler, Carol Padden and Mark Aronoff).

2. the morphological system of ISL, in particular the interaction between morphology and thematic structure in the verb agreement system of ISL.

3. effects of modality on grammatical structure: (a) the effect of the spatial nature of sign languages on their linguistic structures; (b)the interaction between the propensity of sign languages for iconic expression and their grammatical structures. 

My research on Modern Hebrew focuses mainly on recent diachronic developments within the morphological system of the language, in particular nominal suffixation processes and the coding of gender in numerals.



Meir, Irit and Wendy Sandler (2004): safa bamerxav: eshnav li- sfat hasimanim hayisraelit  (Language in Space: a Window onto Israeli Sign Language). Haifa, University of Haifa Press. (in Hebrew).

Meir, Irit and Wendy Sandler (2008): A Language in Space: the Story of Israeli Sign Language. New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

A Language in Space: The Story of Israeli Sign Language is an introduction to sign language for a general audience, using Israeli Sign Language (ISL) as a model. The authors also offer a glimpse into the Deaf community from its inception to the present, including narratives by members of the community about their experience and their language.  An underlying premise of the book is that language is a mental system with universal properties, and that language lives through people. This book is intended for linguists (with or without a background in sign language), psychologists, sociologists,educators, students, and anyone with an interest in the human capacity for language.



Meir, Irit (1998). Syntactic-Semantic Interaction in Israeli Sign Language verbs: The Case of Backwards Verbs. In: Sign Language and Linguistics, vol. 1, 3-33.

Meir, Irit (1999).A perfect marker in Israeli Sign Language, Sign Language and Linguistics, Vol. 2;1, 41-60.

Aronoff, Mark, Irit Meir, and Wendy Sandler (2000). ‘Universal and particular aspects of Sign Language morphology’. In Grohmann, K. K.  & C. Struijke (eds.), University of Maryland Working Papers in Linguistics, 10.   1-34.

Meir, Irit (2001a).‘Verb classifiers as noun incorporation in Israeli Sign Language’, Yearbook of Morphology  1999, 295-315.

Meir, Irit (2001b).‘Motion and Transfer: The analysis of two verb classes in Israeli Sign Language.’  In  Dively, V. (ed.), Signed Languages: Discoveries from international research. Washington D.C.: Gallaudet University Press, pp. 74-87.

Meir, Irit (2002a).A cross-modality perspective on verb agreement Natural Language and Linguistic Theory, vol. 20.2, 413-450.  

Meir, Irit. (2003).Modality and Grammaticalization: The emergence of a case marked pronoun in ISL. Journal of Linguistics 39.1, 109-140.

Aronoff, Mark, Irit Meir, Carol Padden and Wendy Sandler. (2003). ‘Classifier complexes and Morphology in Two Sign Languages.’ In Emmorey, K. (ed.), Perspectives on Classifiers in Sign Languages. Mahwah, New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates pp. 53-84.

Aronoff, Mark, Irit Meir, Carol Padden and Wendy Sandler (2004): 'Morphological universals and the sign language type.' In G. Booj & J. van Marle, eds., Yearbook of morphology 2004, 19-39. Dordrecht/Boston: Kluwer Academic Publishers.

Wendy Sandler, Irit Meir, Carol Padden and Mark Aronoff (2005): 'The emergence of grammar:  Systematic structure in a new language'. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, Feb. 15, 2005, vol.102 no.7, 2661-2665.

Aronoff, Mark, Irit Meir and Wendy Sandler (2005): The paradox of sign language morphology. Language 81.2, 301-344.

Meir, Irit (2005): The Vulnerability of Gender Marking in Modern Hebrew Numerals. Balshanut Ivrit 55, 31-42 (in Hebrew).

Meir,  Irit (2005): 'Coordination of non-like categories.' Haivrit Weahyoteha, vol 4, 223-238 (in Hebrew).

Meir, Irit (2006): Morphological Levels and Diachronic Change in Modern Hebrew Plural Formation. Studies in Language, 2006, 30:4, 827-756.

Meir, Irit (2006) Question and negation in Israeli Sign Language. Sign Language and Linguistics, 7.2, 97-124.

Meir, Irit: (2007): The right for a mother tongue. Speech and Hearing 28, 2006-2007. (In Hebrew)

 Ziv, Margalit, Lucy Malki and Irit Meir (2007): Theory of mind in children with hearing impairment: parental involvement in an intervention program. Speech and Hearing 28, 2006-2007. (In Hebrew).

Meir, Irit, Carol Padden, Mark Aronoff and Wendy Sandler (2007): Re-thinking Sign Language verb classes: The body as subject. On-line proceedings of TISLR 9 conference, Florianopolis, Brazil.

Meir, Irit (2007): The morphological realization of semantic fields. On-line proceedings of TISLR 9 conference, Florianopolis, Brazil.

Meir, Irit, Padden, Carol, Aronoff, Mark, and Sandler, Wendy (2007). Body as subject (PDF) Journal of Linguistics 43, 531-563.

Padden, Carol, Irit Meir, Wendy Sandler and Mark Aronoff (in press). ' Against all expectations: Encoding subjects and objects in a new language.' In Gerdts Donna, John Moore, and Maria Polinsky (eds.), Hypothesis A/Hypothesis B, MIT Press.

Meir, Irit: (2008): Sentential-Phrase Coordination in Hebrew and the syntax-pragmatics interface.Studies in Language, 32:1, 1-21.

Meir, Irit (2008): The role of prosody in morphological change: the case of Hebrew bound numerals. Language Variation and Change 20, 1-25..

Aronoff, Mark, Irit Meir, Carol Padden and Wendy Sandler (2008): The Roots of Linguistic Organization in a New Language. Special Issue of Interaction Studies 9.1 on Holophrasis, Compositionality And Protolanguage , 133-153

Irit Meir (2009): 'Pluralization of dual-base words in Modern Hebrew'. Hebrew Linguistics 62-63, 57-76 (in Hebrew).

Meir,  Irit (2009): 'In the footsteps of 'Eight in the footsteps of one': linguistic choices in self editing.' Haivrit Weahyoteha 8-9, 39-52 (in Hebrew).

Padden, Carol, Irit Meir, Mark Aronoff, and Wendy Sandler. (in press) 'The grammar of space in two new sign languages.' In D. Brentari (ed.), Sign Languages: A Cambridge Survey. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Meir, Irit, Sandler, Wendy, Padden, Carol, & Aronoff, Mark (2010).  Emerging Sign Languages.   In M. Marschark and P. Spencer (Eds.) Oxford Handbook of Deaf Studies, Language, and Education, Volume 2. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 267-280.   

Meir, Irit (2010). 'The Emergence of Argument Structure in Two New Sign Languages.' In M. Rappaport Hovav, E. Doron and I. Sichel (Eds.): Syntax, Lexical Semantics and Event Structure. Oxford University Press, 101-123.

Padden, Carol, Meir, Irit, Aronoff, Mark and Sandler, Wendy. (2010). 'The grammar of space in two new sign languages.' In D. Brentari (Ed.), Sign Languages: A Cambridge Survey. New York: Cambridge University Press, 573-595.

Meir, Irit, Aronoff, Mark, Sandler, Wendy & Padden, Carol (2010). Sign languages and compounding. In S.Scalise & I.Vogel (Eds.): Compounding. John Benjamins, 301-322.

Meir, Irit (in press): ‘Iconicity and metaphor: Constraints on metaphorical extension of iconic forms’. Language.

Wendy Sandler, Mark Aronoff, Irit Meir and Carol Padden (accepted): ‘The Gradual Emergence of Phonological Form in a New Language’, Natural Language and Linguistic Theory.

Meir Irit (to appear). Word classes and word formation. In Pfau, R., Steinbach, M. and B. Woll (Eds.):  Handbook on Sign Language Linguistics. Mouton De Greuter.


Meir, Irit (2002b): Ulrike Zeshan, (2000) Sign Language in Indo-Pakistan: A description of a Signed Language. In Sign Language and Linguistics, 3:2, 265-269.

Aronoff, Mark and Meir, Irit:  (2005): Meier, Cormier & Quinto-Pozos (2003).Modality and Structure in Signed  and Spoken Languages, in  Language 81.3, 742-745.

Handouts of talks (in Hebrew)

'Deaf in Israel as a bilingual minority.' 1st meeting of  Israeli Association for the Study of Language and Society, Haifa 2001.

'The right for a mother-tongue: access to equality in the education of Deaf children.' Oranim college, 2001.


Handouts and ppt of talks (in English)

'The Evolution of Verb Classes and Verb Agreement in Sign Languages'. A talk presented at the LSA 83rd Annual Meeting, San Francisco, 2009.