Sherman Wilcox and Barbara Shaffer
This chapter examines evidentiality in signed languages. Data comes primarily from three signed languages—American Sign Language (ASL), Brazilian Sign Language (Libras), and Catalan Sign Language (LSC). The relationship between evidentiality, epistemic modality, and mirativity is examined across the expression of perceptual information as an evidential source, inference, and reported speech. It is suggested that evidentiality relies on simulation and subjectification. Finally, a proposal is offered that evidentiality, epistemic modality, and mirativity are primarily expressed through grammaticalized facial markers in signed languages, rather than by means of manual signs. These markers allow for simultaneous expression of grammatical markers. In signed languages, therefore, not only are the semantic components of evidentiality, epistemic modality, and mirativity integrated, so too are the phonological means of expression.
Negation systems in sign languages have been shown to display the core grammatical properties attested for natural language negation. Negative manual signs realize clausal negation in much the same way as in spoken languages. However, the visual-gestural modality affords the possibility to encode negative marking non-manually, and sign languages vary as to whether such markers can convey negation on their own or not. Negative concord can be argued to exist between manual and non-negative markers of negation, but we also find cases of negative concord among manual signs. Negation interacts in interesting ways with other grammatical categories, and it can be encoded in irregular and affixal forms that still have sentential scope. At the same time, negation is attested in lexical morphology leading to forms that do not express sentential negation.
Barbara Shaffer and Terry Janzen
This chapter surveys the expression of modality and mood in American Sign Language (ASL), with a focus on modality and, specifically, modal verbs. Beyond sentence types, mood has not been explored extensively for ASL to date, although recent work on irrealis moods has been fruitful. For a signed language such as ASL, articulation with the hands is accompanied by distinctive facial gestures and body/head postures, which become increasingly important as epistemic readings of modals are obtained. Here we give a detailed discussion of modals in ASL that range from agent-oriented to epistemic, looking at both form and function, including some negative modals. We trace the grammaticalization of a number of modal categories and show how at least some of these categories have grammaticalized from earlier gestural sources. Regarding mood, we include some discussion of conditionals, hypotheticals, and counterfactuals.