LINGUIST List 15.106

Thu Jan 15 2004

Diss: Lang Acquisition: Casey: '"Agreement" in...'

Editor for this issue: Takako Matsui <takolinguistlist.org>


Directory

  1. casey, "Agreement" in Gestures and Signed Languages

Message 1: "Agreement" in Gestures and Signed Languages

Date: Fri, 2 Jan 2004 00:04:08 -0500 (EST)
From: casey <caseyling.ucsd.edu>
Subject: "Agreement" in Gestures and Signed Languages

Institution: University of California, San Diego
Program: Linguistics Department
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2003

Author: Shannon Casey

Dissertation Title: "Agreement" in Gestures and Signed Languages: The
use of directionality to indicate referents involved in actions

Linguistic Field: Language Acquisition 

Subject Language: American Sign Language (code: ASE)

Dissertation Director 1: Robert Kluender
Dissertation Director 2: Karen Emmorey
Dissertation Director 3: Carol Padden

Dissertation Abstract:

The use of movement and spatial displacement (i.e. directionality) to
indicate referents involved in actions is investigated in manual
gestures and signs of deaf children acquiring American Sign Language
(ASL) and hearing adults with no exposure to a signed language. This
use of directionality in gestures resembles verb agreement morphology
in signed languages in both its use and form.

Six deaf children acquiring ASL from their deaf parents are studied
longitudinally ranging in age from 0;8 - 2;11. Analyses find that
they not only produce directionality in gestures, but also produce
directionality in signs at younger ages and to a greater extent than
previous research has claimed. Directionality occurs with gestures
prior to signs, and is used more often and at a younger age when
referents are present in the environment, as opposed to when they are
absent. Additionally, directionality occurs with verbs denoting
literal, iconic movement prior to those denoting metaphorical
movement.

In an experiment to elicit directionality from forty-six hearing
adults with no exposure to a signed language, subjects are asked to
watch videotaped scenes involving interactions between two people, and
then to describe the scenes using both speech and gesture without
speech. These subjects are found to produce more directional gestures
when not permitted to speak and when photographs of referents are
present in the environment, as opposed to when they are absent.

Evidence from the directional gestural productions of these deaf
children and hearing adults is argued to support a gestural origin of
verb agreement morphology in signed languages both phylogenetically
and ontogenetically. The developmental path of directionality is
proposed to proceed from use with present referents to absent
referents and from use with verbs denoting literal movement to those
denoting metaphorical movement. Similarities in the use of
directionality in gesture and sign are claimed to support a
domain-general view of the relationship between language and gesture,
as opposed to a modular, domain-specific view. Although verb
agreement morphology is argued to originate from gesture, its late
acquisition and the production of reversal errors suggest that
directionality has become grammaticized in ASL and is no longer
gestural.
Mail to author|Respond to list|Read more issues|LINGUIST home page|Top of issue