Chapter

Telicity expression in the visual modality

Evie Malaia and Ronnie B. Wilbur

in Telicity, Change, and State

Published in print June 2012 | ISBN: 9780199693498
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191741715 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199693498.003.0005

Series: Oxford Studies in Theoretical Linguistics

Telicity expression in the visual modality

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This chapter reports experimental results of motion capture studies in two unrelated sign languages: American Sign Language (ASL), and Hrvatski Znakovi Jezik (HZJ) — aimed at investigating kinematic correlates of event structure representation. The studies addressed the following questions: Do signers mark event structure kinematically in predicate signs? What are the kinematic features associated with telicity in predicate signs? If kinematic markers of telicity do exist, how do they interact with known prosodic features in sign languages? The results for both sign languages demonstrate that signers reliably mark predicate event structure using higher peak velocity for telic predicates, as well as rapid deceleration following peak velocity. Furthermore, phrase-final lengthening affected sign kinematics in both languages such that phrase-final predicates were signed slower that those in phrase-medial position. This experimental work has important theoretical consequences for the accounts of sign language phonology, prosody, and semantics, as well as theories of event structure representation across modalities in human languages.

Keywords: telicity; event structure; sign language; kinematic; prosody; phrase-final lengthening; semantics; phonology

Chapter.  5292 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Semantics

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