Grammaticalization in sign languages

Roland Pfau and Markus Steinbach

in The Oxford Handbook of Grammaticalization

Published in print October 2011 | ISBN: 9780199586783
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Linguistics

Grammaticalization in sign languages

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  • Linguistics
  • Historical and Diachronic Linguistics



This article considers the factors and processes associated with grammaticalisation in sign languages. It provides commentaries on the methodological challenges diachronic sign language research is faced with and describes selected grammaticalisation phenomena that we take to be modality-independent. It also discusses modality-specific instances of grammaticalisation and the grammaticalisation of gestures. The analysis reveals that sign language only show little evidence of type 2 grammaticalization and they have the unique possibility of grammaticalising manual and non-manual gestures.

Keywords: sign languages; grammaticalisation; modality-specific instances; gestures; manual gestures

Article.  4329 words. 

Subjects: Linguistics ; Historical and Diachronic Linguistics

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