Perspectives on Classifier Constructions in Sign Language

By Karen Emmorey | Go to book overview

CONCLUSIONS

In exploring the function of the B-Cl, data from first-language acquisition suggests they are intimately involved in reference shift. The B-Cl does not appear to be used for noun classification but rather describes a complex referential shift in a reduced syntactic form. The recategorisation of the B-Cl, a form that is attested in several sign languages, is part of the current process of reexamination of classifier typology. By recategorizing B-Cls as outside classifier typology, a more cohesive group of classifiers, which share common properties and functions, remains. The B-Cl may be more appropriately renamed as the B-Loc (Body Location) to indicate its role in the referential system.


ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

Parts of this research were presented at a workshop on classifiers, organized by Karen Emmorey in April 2000 at the Salk Institute, California. We are grateful for discussion at the workshop with Karen Emmorey, Judy Kegl, and Dan Slobin. This chapter benefited also from comments by Karen Emmorey and an anonymous reviewer. We would like to thank the adults and children who took part in the studies reported. Fig. 14.4a & Fig. 14.4b reprinted by permission of the authors.


ENDNOTES
1
Signed sentences that appear in the text follow standard notation conventions. Signs are represented by uppercase English glosses. Repetition of signs is marked by '+'. 'IX' is a pointing sign. Semicircles represent the sign space with the flat edge nearest to the signer's perspective. Arrows indicate the direction of the agreement verb's movement. Above the glosses, eye-gaze markers such as closes (ØØ), direction (>>) and gaze toward the addressee (><) are indicated by a horizontal line across the affected segment.

REFERENCES

Aarons, D., & Morgan, R. (2000). The interaction of classifiers and syntax in South African Sign Language. University ofStellenbosch Papers in Linguistics, 33, 1–20.

Bellugi, U., van Hoek, L., Lillo-Martin, D., & O'Grady, L. (1989). The acquisition of syntax and space in young deaf signers. In K. Mogford-Bevan & D. Bishop (Eds.), Language development in exceptional circumstances (pp 132–149). Hillsdale. NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Bellugi, U., Lillo-Martin, D., O'Grady, L., & van Hoek, K. (1990). The development of spatialized syntactic mechanisms in American Sign Language. In W. H. Edmondson & F. Karlson (Eds.), Papers from the Fourth International Symposium on Sign Language Research, Finland (pp. 16–25). Hamburg: Signum-Verlag.

Bos, H. (1996, September). Serial verb construction in Sign Language of the Netherlands. Paper presented at the Fifth International Conference on Theoretical Issues in Sign Language Research, Montréal.

Brennan, M. (1990). Productive morphology in British Sign Language: Focus on the role of metaphors. In S. Prillwitz & T. Vollhaber (Eds.), Current trends in European Sign Language research (pp. 206–230). Hamburg: Signum-Verlag.

Craig, C. (1986). Noun classification and categorization: Typological studies in language. Philadelphia: John Benjamins.

Edmondson, W. (1990). A non-concatenative account of classifier morphology in signed and spoken languages. In S. Prillwitz & T. Vollhaber (Eds.), Current trends in European Sign Language research (pp. 187–204). Hamburg: Signum-Verlag.

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