Two Types of Nonconcatenative Morphology in Signed Languages

Gaurav Mathur and Christian Rathmann

in Deaf around the World

Published in print November 2010 | ISBN: 9780199732548
Published online January 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199866359 | DOI:
Two Types of Nonconcatenative Morphology in Signed Languages

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This chapter examines morphological processes in sign languages, with an eye toward understanding morphology that changes internal properties of a sign. Cross-linguistic comparisons of German, Japanese and American Sign Languages reveal two such types of morphological processes. One changes the sign according to fixed forms listed in the lexicon; the other looks to interaction with gestural space to determine its realization. While both are subject to language-specific constraints against marked forms, only the latter is also subject to phonological constraints against moving or twisting a manual articulator. These constraints arise because interaction with gestural space has the potential to result in forms that exceed the limits of the articulators. This latter type of nonconcatenative morphology makes sign languages unique.

Keywords: sign language morphology; gestural space; nonconcatenative morphology; language-specific constraints; phonological constraints; sign language linguistics; German Sign Language; Japanese Sign Language; American Sign Language

Chapter.  11093 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Language Teaching and Learning

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