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Primary Movement in Sign Languages

A Study of Six Languages

Donna Jo Napoli, Mark Mai, and Nicholas Gaw

Publication Year: 2011

Is it possible to identify sign languages by their prosody, that is, the rhythm and stress of their meaning, then determine if they are related to each other or other sign languages? If so, reasoned authors Donna Jo Napoli, Mark Mai, and Nicholas Gaw, perhaps they could offer such identification as a new way to typologize, or categorize sign languages by their structural features. Their new collaboration Primary Movement in Sign Languages: A Study of Six Languages traces the process and findings from this unique investigation. Resolving on the direction of movement as the prosodic factor to track, they began their research by comparing five sign languages: American Sign Language (ASL), British Sign Language (BSL), Italian Sign Language (LIS), French Sign Language (LSF), and Australian Sign Language (Auslan). They soon discovered that the languages in their study clustered with respect to several characteristics along genetic lines, with BSL and Auslan contrasting with LSF, LIS, and ASL. They learned that sign languages with the same geographic origin evolved differently when relocated, and they isolated differences in each individual sign language. They compared these established sign languages with the newly emerging Nicaraguan Sign Language (NSL), with the exception of ASL due to their past close contact, thereby validating their work as the first study to identify sign language relationships without depending on grammar.

Published by: Gallaudet University Press

Title Page, Copyright

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Foreword

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pp. vii-viii

We began our work as a comparative study across five sign languages: American Sign Language (ASL), British Sign Language (BSL), Italian Sign Language/ . . .

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1 Introduction

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pp. 1-11

.The past fifty years have witnessed a flowering of research on sign languages, largely on their phonology and morphology but in more recent years increasingly on their syntax and semantics. The first . . .

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2 Gathering the Data

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pp. 12-35

The raw data analyzed in later chapters are presented in appendices B through D. Other raw data that do not fit into our figures and tables but are alluded to in the analyses in the text are found . . .

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3 Analysis of Signs with Noncurve Paths in ASL, BSL, LIS, LSF, and Auslan

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pp. 36-72

Here and in all the analyses in later chapters, we give numbers and percentages, organized into charts, tables, and diagrams. We also give statistics. Originally, we had not intended to offer statistical . . .

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4 Analysis of Signs with Curve Paths in ASL, BSL, LIS, LSF, and Auslan

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pp. 73-89

We organized the signs with curve paths according to whether the movement was CW or CCW as seen on the HZ, VW, or Mid plane. We determined CW versus CCW on the Mid plane by looking at . . .

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5 Unusual Symmetry or Other Oddities in ASL, BSL, LIS, LSF, and Auslan

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pp. 90-106

Some two-handed signs exhibit a variety of interesting complexities regarding symmetry. Where symmetry is defined over time, all such signs involve reflexivity across the Mid plane. The raw data are found . . .

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6. Results from the Studyof ASL, BSL, LIS, LSF,and Auslan

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pp. 107-125

In this chapter, we give the generalizations we have found that hold across the five languages examined thus far and the implications of these generalizations. We then summarize the findings on particular . . .

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7 Testing and Beyond

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pp. 126-148

In this chapter we test the proposals we arrived at in chapter 6 on a sixth language, Nicaraguan Sign Language/idioma de seƱas de Nicaragua (ISN), taking up those proposals in the order in which . . .

Appendix A Raw Data Not Included in the Figures in the Main Text

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pp. 149-152

Appendix B Raw Data Included in the Figures and Tables in the Main Text for Paths Other Than Curves for 1H, 2HIB,and 2HRM

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pp. 153-177

Appendix C Raw Data Included in the Diagrams and Charts in the Main Text for Curve Paths for 1H, 2HIB, and 2HRM

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pp. 178-185

Appendix D Raw Data for the Rest of the 2H Signs

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pp. 186-191

Appendix E Resources on Additional Sign Languages

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pp. 192-194

Bibliography

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pp. 195-206

Index

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pp. 207-214


E-ISBN-13: 9781563684920
E-ISBN-10: 1563684926
Print-ISBN-13: 9781563684913
Print-ISBN-10: 1563684918

Page Count: 344
Illustrations: 81 tables, 36 figures, 35 photos
Publication Year: 2011