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The impact of time on predicate forms in the manual modality: signers, homesigners, and silent gesturers.

Goldin-Meadow, Susan
| Idioma(s): Inglés
It is difficult to create spoken forms that can be understood on the spot. But the manual modality, in large part because of its iconic potential, allows us to construct forms that are immediately understood, thus requiring essentially no time to develop. This paper contrasts manual forms for actions produced over three time spans-by silent gesturers who are asked to invent gestures on the spot; by homesigners who have created gesture systems over their life spans; and by signers who have learned a conventional sign language from other signers-and finds that properties of the predicate differ across these time spans. Silent gesturers use location to establish co-reference in the way established sign languages do, but they show little evidence of the segmentation sign languages display in motion forms for manner and path, and little evidence of the finger complexity sign languages display in handshapes in predicates representing events. Homesigners, in contrast, not only use location to establish co-reference but also display segmentation in their motion forms for manner and path and finger complexity in their object handshapes, although they have not yet decreased finger complexity to the levels found in sign languages in their handling handshapes. The manual modality thus allows us to watch language as it grows, offering insight into factors that may have shaped and may continue to shape human language.
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