In this paper the results of an investigation of word order in Russian Sign Language (RSL) are presented. A small corpus of narratives based on comic strips by nine native signers was analyzed and a picturedescription experiment (based on Volterra et al. 1984) was conducted with six native signers. The results are the following: the most frequent word order in RSL is SVO for plain and agreeing verbs and SOV for classifier predicates. Some factors can influence the word order, namely aspect marking on the verb (favors OV), semantic reversibility of the situation (favors SVO) and "heaviness" (manifested in the presence of modifiers) of the object (favors VO). One of the findings of the investigation is that locative situations are described differently in the narratives and in the experimental settings: in the latter but not in the former case the OSV order is quite common. This may result from two different strategies of creating locative sentences: syntactic vs. spatial strategy.


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pp. 414-445
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