LINGUIST List 9.890

Tue Jun 16 1998

Disc: American Sign Language

Editor for this issue: Martin Jacobsen <>


  1. Peggy Speas, Re: 9.867, Disc: American Sign Language

Message 1: Re: 9.867, Disc: American Sign Language

Date: Thu, 11 Jun 1998 15:17:12 -0400
From: Peggy Speas <>
Subject: Re: 9.867, Disc: American Sign Language

The bit of evidence that convinces me that ASL "pointing" is actually
pronouns is that signing children make a pronoun mistake that is
parallel to one that speaking children make: At an early stage,
speaking children often confuse "you" and "me". When a parent says
"bring the book to me", the child interprets "me" as a lable for that
parent, and when the parent says "Do you want a cookie, the child
interprets "you" as a label for him/herself. So a child at this stage
will say "you want a cookie" meaning "I want a cookie" and "Me give
cookie" meaning "you give [me] a cookie". Signing children do exactly
the same thing: They point outward toward the parent when they mean
"me", because they interpret the outward oriented pointy finger as a
sign referring to them. How could this be deixis?

Peggy Speas
University of Massachusetts, Amherst
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