Achieving spatial coherence in German Sign Language narratives: The use of classifiers and perspective

Autor/a: PERNISS, Pamela
Año: 2007
Editorial: Lingua, nº 7, vol. 117 (2007) pp. 1315–1338
Tipo de código: Copyright
Soporte: Digital


Lingüística » Lingüística de otras Lenguas de Signos


Spatial coherence in discourse relies on the use of devices that provide information about where referents are and where events take place. In signed language, two primary devices for achieving and maintaining spatial coherence are the use of classifier forms and signing perspective. This paper gives a unified account of the relationship between perspective and classifiers, and divides the range of possible correspondences between these two devices into prototypical and non-prototypical alignments. An analysis of German Sign Language narratives of complex events investigates the role of different classifier-perspective constructions in encoding spatial information about location, orientation, action and motion, as well as size and shape of referents. In particular, I show how non-prototypical alignments, including simultaneity of perspectives, contribute to the maintenance of spatial coherence, and provide functional explanations in terms of efficiency and informativeness constraints on discourse.