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Signed Languages

Discoveries from International Research

Valerie Dively, Melanie Metzger, Sarah Taub, and Anne Marie Baer, Editors

Publication Year: 2001

Signed Languages: Discoveries from International Research collects the thirteen freshest, most innovative papers presented at the sixth Theoretical Issues in Sign Language Research conference in 1998, the largest of its kind ever convened. Presented together in this timely compendium, the research reflects the current trend toward focusing on international signed languages that previously have been ignored, including those of Sweden, Israel, Venezuela, and northern Nigeria. The anthology is divided into six sections: Phonology, Morphology and Syntax, Psycholinguistics, Language Acquisition, Sociolinguistics, and Poetics. In Part One, articulatory constraints and the sign language of the Netherlands are addressed. In Part Two, researchers tackle noun classifiers, nonhanded signs, and verb classes in the signed languages of Sweden, the United States, and Israel respectively. Part Three offers the study, “Functional Consequences of Modality: Spatial Coding in Working Memory for Signs.” Language acquisition is analyzed in both adult learners and deaf children in Part Four. Part Five reports on the relationship between language and society around the world, focusing particularly on the signed languages of Venezuela and northern Nigeria. Part Six considers the techniques employed in British Sign Language poetry and ASL poetry. Edited by Valerie Dively, Melanie Metzger, Sarah Taub, and Anne Marie Baer, Signed Languages sets the pace on the current signed language research, becoming an essential resource for any linguist’s or deaf scholar’s library.

Published by: Gallaudet University Press

Front Matter

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pp. v-vi

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pp. vii-x

A brisk breeze lifted red, brown, and gold leaves into a swirl that blew across the campus of Gallaudet University on a crisp, clear November weekend in 1998. Inside the Kellogg Conference Center, a flurry of swirling hands raised questions and proposed theories about signed languages ...

Part One: Phonology

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Why Not GIVE-US: An Articulatory Constraint in Signed Languages

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pp. 1-26

Movement constitutes one of the parameters in a signed language (along with parameters of location, handshape, and orientation) that correspond to phonemes in spoken languages. Traditionally, movement has been defined in perceptual terms. For example, Stokoe (1960) and ...

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Weak Drop in Sign Language of the Netherlands

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pp. 27-42

In all sign languages studied to date, we find both one-handed and two-handed signs. Two-handed signs come in two types: signs in which the two hands look the same and do the same, roughly speaking—so-called balanced signs—and signs in which one hand moves with respect to the ...

Part Two: Morphology and Syntax

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The Discourse Function of Noun Classifiers in Swedish Sign Language

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pp. 45-61

The present study focuses on a set of signs that typically occur after nouns in Swedish Sign Language. Examples 1–4 show utterances that were taken from videotaped narratives1 and contain examples of this set of signs (illustrated in figures 1a–1d), which are represented by glosses in bold ...

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Signs without Hands: Nonhanded Signs in American Sign Language

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pp. 62-73

Signs in signed languages have long been defined as free morphemes that are produced with the use of at least one hand. This view needs to be expanded because this preliminary investigation indicates that some American Sign Language (ASL) signs are produced without the use of a hand, ...

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Motion and Transfer:The Analysis of Two Verb Classes in Israeli Sign Language

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pp. 74-87

This chapter addresses the relationship between two verb classes in Israeli Sign Language (ISL): agreement verbs and spatial verbs. I argue that by using a specific lexical decomposition analysis, along the lines of Jackendoff (1990), the morphological and semantic similarities as well as ...

Part Three: Psycholinguistics

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Functional Consequences of Modality:Spatial Coding in Working Memory for Signs

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pp. 91-99

Traditional approaches to psychology and psycholinguistics treat mental representations and mental events as phenomena that can be divorced from the body. The mind, of course, cannot be separated from the brain, but we traditionally view the mind-brain unit as being largely divorced ...

Part Four: Language Acquisition

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Proximalization and Distalization of Sign Movement in Adult Learners

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pp. 103-119

The typical situation in which an adult acquires a new language is one in which a hearing individual learns a new spoken language. What is the task that confronts this learner? In addition to acquiring a new vocabulary and new syntactic rules, our learner must learn to articulate any phonological ...

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The Emergence of Narrative Discourse in Two Young Deaf Children

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pp. 120-132

Children go from making free associations to making “frog leaps” and, finally, to creating sequences before they can produce real narrative discourse (at approximately the age of six or seven). A well-formed narrative can be described with “story grammar,” consisting of at least one complete ...

Part Five: Sociolinguistics

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Analyzing Variation in Sign Languages: Theoretical and Methodological Issues

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pp. 135-162

Sociolinguistic inquiry examines the complex relationship between language and its social context. Language is much more than a means of communication; it is also a social object that both reflects and helps constitute the social context in which it is embedded. One of the ways that language ...

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Politeness and Venezuelan Sign Language

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pp. 176-192

Linguistic research done in the last 30 years has produced a reevaluation of signed languages. The linguistic discovery that signed languages are not defective copies of oral languages but, quite to the contrary, are complex linguistic systems that have evolved within the communities ...

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ASL in Northern Nigeria:Will Hausa Sign Language Survive?

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pp. 180-193

Systematic linguistic research on African sign languages has only recently begun, and so far, no African sign language has been documented in a way comparable to the way that ASL or some of the European sign languages have been documented. However, any researcher who wants to study an ...

Part Six: Poetics

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Complex Superposition of Metaphors in an ASL Poem

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pp. 197-230

Poetic language draws on the same linguistic resources that we use in everyday language. Undoubtedly, most users of language strive for beauty in their linguistic output, and there are ample possibilities for such devices as wordplay, echoing and repetition, symmetrical structure, and joint creation ...

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British Sign Language Poetry: A Linguistic Analysis of the Work of Dorothy Miles

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pp. 231-243

Leech (1969), considering English poetry, treats poems as linguistically deviant forms of language in which the form and content are “foregrounded” against a background of nondeviant language. The deviant language that is used may be noticeably irregular or noticeably regular. The ...


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pp. 245-246


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pp. 247-254

E-ISBN-13: 9781563682469
E-ISBN-10: 156368246X
Print-ISBN-13: 9781563681066
Print-ISBN-10: 1563681064

Page Count: 266
Illustrations: 10 tables, 15 figures, 15 photos
Publication Year: 2001