Andrew Nevins – Séminaire 3

3ème séminaire de Andrew Nevins dans le cadre de la Chaire Internationale 2021 du Labex EFL
01 October 2021, 14h0016h00
ILPGA, 19 rue des Bernardins 75005 Paris - Salle Rousselot.
Dans la limite des places disponibles pour le respect des distanciations sociales

Lectures 3-4: Contrast and Dispersion in Handshapes in a Village Sign Language

We provide an analysis of the distribution of handshapes on the dominant and non-dominant hand in the incipient village sign language found in the Maxakal´ı community in Brazil. The most frequent handshapes reflect tendencies in choosing from the crosslinguistically unmarked set of handshapes, and are particularly well-suited to quantitative analyses of handshape complexity found in models such as Ann (2006) and Brentari (2003), in addition to favouring a core set chosen from the most maximally dispersed handshapes. This in fact suggests that emergent sign languages, no matter how young, show quantitative correlations between token frequency and articulatory complexity, despite tendencies that they may have otherwise to be iconically referential. We demonstrate that these trends hold for the non-dominant hand as well, an element of sign language phonologies with no analogue in the spoken domain. Finally, we demonstrate how allophonic thumb extension can be understood as contrast enhancement in signed languages, leading to a visual analogue of acoustic prominence.

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