Sign languages have two strikingly different kinds of morphological structure: sequential and
simultaneous. The simultaneous morphology of two unrelated sign languages, American and
Israeli Sign Language, is very similar and is largely inflectional, while what little sequential
morphology we have found differs significantly and is derivational. We show that at least two
pervasive types of inflectional morphology, verb agreement and classifier constructions, are iconically
grounded in spatiotemporal cognition, while the sequential patterns can be traced to normal
historical development. We attribute the paucity of sequential morphology in sign languages to
their youth. This research both brings sign languages much closer to spoken languages in their
morphological structure and shows how the medium of communication contributes to the structure
Scale Structure, Degree Modification, and the Semantics of Gradable Predicates [Access article in PDF] Subject Headings:
English language -- Adjective.
English language -- Semantics.
In this article we develop a semantic typology of gradable predicates, with special emphasis
on deverbal adjectives. We argue for the linguistic relevance of this typology by demonstrating
that the distribution and interpretation of degree modifiers is sensitive to its twomajor classificatory
parameters: (1) whether a gradable predicate is associated with what we call an open or closed
scale, and (2) whether the standard of comparison for the applicability of the predicate is absolute
or relative to a context. We further showthat the classification of an important subclass of
adjectives within the typology is largely predictable. Specifically, the scale structure of a deverbal
gradable adjective correlates either with the algebraic part structure of the event denoted by its
source verb or with the part structure of the entities to which the adjective applies. These correlations
underscore the fact that gradability is characteristic not only of adjectives but also of verbs
and nouns, and that scalar properties are shared by categorially distinct but derivationally related
Ringe, Donald A., 1954-
Warnow, Tandy, 1955-
Perfect Phylogenetic Networks: A New Methodology for Reconstructing the Evolutionary History of Natural Languages [Access article in PDF] Subject Headings:
In this article we extend the model of language evolution exemplified in Ringe et al. 2002,
which recovers phylogenetic trees optimized according to a criterion of weighted maximum compatibility,
to include cases in which languages remain in contact and trade linguistic material as
they evolve. We describe our analysis of an Indo-European (IE) dataset (originally assembled by
Ringe and Taylor) based on this new model. Our study shows that this new model fits the IE
family well and suggests that the early evolution of IE involved only limited contact between
distinct lineages. Furthermore, the candidate histories we obtain appear to be consistent with
archaeological findings, which suggests that this method may be of practical use. The case at
hand provides no opportunity to explore the problem of conflict between network optimization
criteria; that problem must be left to future research.
Researchers have long debated the means by which children learn the argument structure of
verbs. Making syntactic generalizations often entails learning the semantics of different verbs,
complicating and delaying the acquisition process. This study investigates four- to twelve-yearolds'
and adults' knowledge of animacy hierarchy restrictions on postverbal word order in Sesotho
double object applicatives, constructions where verb semantics is kept constant. Performance on
forced-choice elicited production tasks showed that four-year-olds have early knowledge of the
animacy hierarchy restrictions, providing evidence of syntactic generalization even on low-frequency
constructions. Although there were no verb frequency effects, performance was also better
on the highest-frequency animacy constructions. The results suggest that learning restrictions on
verb-argument structure is facilitated when verb semantics is not a confound, but that construction
frequency also plays a role in mastering the argument structure of verbs.
Boas, Hans Christian, 1971-
Determining the Productivity of Resultatives: A Reply to Goldberg and Jackendoff [Access article in PDF] Subject Headings:
Goldberg, Adele E. English resultative as a family of constructions.
Boas, Hans Christian, 1971- Determining the productivity of resultatives: a reply to Goldberg and Jackendoff.
Wechsler, Stephen. Weighing in on scales: a reply to Goldberg and Jackendoff.
English language -- Resultative constructions.
Weldon, Tracey L.
The Development of African American English, and: The Historical Evolution of Earlier African American English: An Empirical Comparison of Early Sources (review) [Access article in PDF] Subject Headings:
Wolfram, Walt, 1941- Development of African American English.
Thomas, Erik R.
Kautzsch, Alexander, 1969- Historical evolution of earlier African American English: an empirical comparison of early sources.