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date: 01 April 2020

Abstract and Keywords

To understand the relationship between linguistic structure and modality, this chapter surveys the structure of sign languages at several levels of grammar, using the contrasting themes of sequentiality and simultaneity as a focus. Signs can be sequenced on the basis of phonological properties, such as handshape, orientation, and location, which are bundled simultaneously and co-occur with movement. Examples of both sequential and simultaneous morphology abound that have parallels in spoken languages. In addition, sign languages display a unique type of simultaneous morphology that requires interaction with gestural space. The use of gestural space to provide cohesion to the discourse and the simultaneous use of the two manual articulators to produce portions of syntax and discourse seem unique to sign languages. Such properties that are unique to the signed modality must be accounted for by models of language production that seek to cover both modalities.

Keywords: modality, sign language, sequentiality, simultaneity, phonology, morphology, syntax, discourse, gestural space

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