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Sign Language Research

Theoretical Issues

Ceil Lucas, Editor

Publication Year: 1990

The second international conference on sign language research, hosted by Gallaudet University, yielded critical findings in vital linguistic disciplines -- phonology, morphology, syntax, sociolinguistics, language acquisition and psycholinguistics. Sign Language Research brings together in a fully synthesized volume the work of 24 of the researchers invited to this important gathering. Scholars from Belgium to India, from Finland to Uganda, and from Japan to the United States, exchanged the latest developments in sign language research worldwide. Now, the results of their findings are in this comprehensive volume complete with illustrations and photographs.

Published by: Gallaudet University Press


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pp. iii-v

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pp. vii

This volume contains twenty-four of the thirty-three papers, including William Stokoe's keynote address, originally presented at the international conference, Theoretical Issues in Sign Language Research, II, sponsored by the Department of Linguistics and Interpreting at Gallaudet Univerity. All presenters...


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pp. ix-x

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An Historical Perspective on Sign Language Research: A Personal View

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pp. 1-8

It is good to be back together with so many of you at this time and in this place. To the best of my historical knowledge this is only the second sign language research conference to be held on the Gallaudet campus. The only other one I can recall was organized by Robbin Battison back in the early seventies...

Part One: Phonology

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A Structured-Tiers Model for ASL Phonology

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pp. 11-26

In the tradition of generative phonology since Chomsky and Halle (1968), a segment such as a vowel or a consonant has been represented as a set of phonological features. This view began to be seriously challenged by Goldsmith (1976). Goldsmith argues that there are subsets of features that behave independently...

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Handshape Assimilations in Hierarchical Phonological Representation

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pp. 27-49

Phonology is the study of the abstract system underlying the selection and use of minimally contrastive units in natural languages. Traditionally, phonologists have focused on oral languages; however, the recent realization that human languages can evolve outside the oral-aural modality...

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The Regularity Hypothesis Applied to ASL

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pp. 50-56

In this paper, I claim that regular change in the technical sense of historical linguistics does not occur in sign languages. Such regular change is distinct from the systematic lexical changes that have been observed. To support any claim, I will construct hypothetical examples of regular change in ASL and show...

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Licensing in ASL Handshape Change

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pp. 57-68

How much handshape change is permitted within an ASL sign and within what domain(s) do such constraints apply? I will be treating constraints on handshape change as static Well-formedness Conditions. I will show that these constraints function as the Word Level (W-level) of a phonological...

Part Two: Morphology

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The Morphology of Classifier Handshapes in Italian Sign Language (LIS)

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pp. 71-82

This chapter analyzes the classifier system of Italian Sign Language (LIS), a topic that has not previously been addressed. However, such studies have been made for other sign languages, for eample, ASL (Boyes-Braem, 1981; Padden, 1983; Supalla, 1986; for a review Wilbur, 1987) Danish Sign Language...

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Manual and Nonmanual Morphology in Italian Sign Language: Grammatical Constraints and Discourse Processes

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pp. 83-102

This paper focuses on some of the morphological and morphosyntactic regularities of Italian Sign Language (LIS). In particular, we shall explore and describe the behavior of manual nouns, verbs, and pronouns, and the relationship between these manual signs and a specific class of nonmanual pronominal...

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Spatial-Locative Predicates in Thai Sign Language

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pp. 103-117

Many of the young deaf people in Chiang Mai, Thailand, acquired literacy in Thai language simultaneously with acquisition of Thai Sign Language (THAISL). This chapter investigates the intriguing question of whether these bilingual individuals borrowed Thai classifiers ad hoc into their use of THAISL...

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The Relation Between Space and Grammar in ASL Verb Morphology

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pp. 118-132

One of the more traditional approaches to analysis of signed languages has been to examine the ways in which modality interacts with language structure (Klima, Bellugi, et al., 1979; Wilbur, 1979; Bellugi and Studdert-Kennedy, 1980). Perhaps the most compelling feature of signed languages, certainly one...

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Polymorphemic Predicates in Swedish Sign Language1

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pp. 133-148

I would like to begin by expressing my gratitude for being invited to this conference. It is a great honor for me to be invited to Gallaudet University. I would also like to take this opportunity to congratulate Gallaudet on its first deaf president and its deaf chairman of the Board of Trustees. It is an important...

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Predicate Argument Structure and Verb-Class Organization in the ASL Lexicon

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pp. 149-175

This paper proposed an argument-structure typology for ASL that identifies and distinguishes verbs based upon the number and types of arguments (usually NPs) that they take: transitives (x<y>), double object constructions (x<y z<), three-place predicates...

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Four Functions of a Locus: Reexamining the Structure of Space in ASL

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pp. 176-198

This paper reinvestigates the structure and use of space in ASL. Most of the discussion will focus on the behavior of agreement verbs, but it will become evident that the behavior of agreement verbs is not independent of other uses of space including, for example, the use of classifier...

Part Three: Syntax

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A Class of Determiners in ASL

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pp. 201-210

Sign language researchers who discuss pointing signs in ASL have arrived at diverse conclusions as to their syntactic, semantic, and pragmatic functions. Lacy (1973) finds that signers establish referents in particular locations in signing space and use pointing signs that act as pronouns...

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Parameters for Questions: Evidence from wh-Movement in ASL

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pp. 211-222

In this paper I will present some data on the formation of wh-questions in American Sign Language (ASL). The data show that wh-movement in ASL exhibits a different pattern from wh-movement in English and other languages. I make several generalization about wh-movement possibilities...

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ASL Relative Clauses and Their Interaction with Null Categories

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pp. 223-237

Similarly constructed relative clauses occur in several unrelated languages. Gorbet (1973) analyzes internally headed relative clauses (IHRCs) in Diegue

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Is ASL like Diegue

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pp. 238-255

In American Sign Language Syntax (1980), Scott K. Liddell argues that ASL has "internally headed relative clauses" (IHRCs) comparable to the structures proposed in Gorbet (1974) to describe restrictive relatives in Diegue

Part Four: Sociolinguistics

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The Emerging Deaf Community in the Dominican Republic: An Ethnographic Study

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pp. 259-274

This study of the deaf community in the Dominican Republic is a preliminary ethnographic study. It is the result of qualitative research undertaken over the course of five years, 1983 to 1987. Approximately eight months were spent in the community. All observations involved members of the deaf community...

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Dialectal Flexibility in Sign Language in Africa

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pp. 275-287

This paper is organized in four parts. Part one outlines our theoretical perspective on languages and communication in general, and more specifically on sociolinguistic parameters of language planning. Part two provides a brief description of Zambia in terms of geographical, demographic, cultural...

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ASL, English, and Contact Signing

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pp. 288-307

Woodward (1973) and Woodward and Markowicz (1975) claimed that the signing that results from language contact in the American deaf community is a pidgin resulting from deaf-hearing interaction. Indeed, there does exist a kind of signing that results from the contact between ASL and English, and that...

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Linguistic Transference and Interference: Interpreting Between English and ASL

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pp. 308-321

Research suggests that interlingual transference—for example, code-switching, code-mixing, and lexical borrowing—typically characterize conversational style in bilingual communities (Gumperz and Hernandez-Chavez, 1971; Gumperz, 1976; DiPietro, 1978; Poplack...

Part Five: Language Acquisition and Psycholinguistics

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Types of Instructional Input as Predictors of Reading Achievement for Hearing-Impaired Students

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pp. 325-336

Paramount in discussing reading problems and deafness are two well-documented points: hearing impaired children do not acquire language in an age-appropriate manner (King and Quigley, 1985; McAnnlly, Rose, and Quigley, 1987; Moores, 1987; Quigley and Paul, 1984) and deficits in language abilities...

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Lexical Acquisition in Sign and Speech: Evidence from a Longitudinal Study of Infants in Deaf Families

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pp. 337-345

Although there has been considerable interest in the development of children's language in the English-speaking world, there has been only a very limited amount of work on acquisition in special populations. When such work has been done, it has often been on opportunity groups who have been discovered at a time...

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A Psycholinguistic Approach to Categorizing Handshapes in American Sign Language: Is [As] an Allophone of /A/?

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pp. 346-357

Even though linguistic studies on American Sign Language (ASL) began some thirty years ago a consensus on a phonological analysis has yet to materialize. Stokoe, Casterline, and Croneberg (1965) made the first attempt at a phonemic analysis of ASL, and it was important for at least four reasons...

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The Effects of Morphosyntactic Structure on the Acquisition of Classifier Predicates in ASL

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pp. 358-374

One of the most notable aspects of the grammar of ASL is the productivity of multimorphemic classifier predicates. In comparison with English, ASL more closely resembles languages in which word order is relatively flexible and grammatical relations are represented by mutlimorphemic words, such as...


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pp. 375-384

E-ISBN-13: 9781563682247
E-ISBN-10: 1563682249
Print-ISBN-13: 9780930323585
Print-ISBN-10: 0930323580

Page Count: 384
Illustrations: 88 figures, 52 photos, 24 line illustrations
Publication Year: 1990