Fill the gap: A novel test to elicit nominal plurals in Sign Language of the Netherlands

Autor/a: BOVEN, Cindy van
Año: 2020
Editorial: FEAST, Formal and Experimental Advances in Sign language Theory, Vol. 3 (2020) pp. 56-67
Tipo de código: Copyright
Soporte: Digital


Lingüística » Lingüística de otras Lenguas de Signos


The present study introduces a novel gap-filling test to elicit plural nouns in Sign Language of the Netherlands (NGT). As of yet, nominal plurals in NGT have not been described in detail, as eliciting plural nouns is not without challenges. In previous researchon NGT (Zwitserlood and Nijhof 1999), native signers were asked to describe picturesof plural objects. However, when describing pictures, the signers automatically also expressed the spatial distribution of the objects depicted on the stimulus picture, usinglocalization. As a consequence, it remains unclear what ‘pure’ plurals – without localiza-tion – look like. The goal of our gap-filling task is to disentangle pluralization from local-ization: participants are asked to insert plural nouns in signed sentence contexts wherethe spatial distribution of the referents is irrelevant. After piloting the task, five deaf native signers participated. The task succeeded in eliciting pure plural forms that were notspatially distributed, and the results show that NGT optionally employs reduplication tomark the pure plural of nouns. We conclude that our gap-filling task successfully controls for localization, targeting the desired structure without using written language. Infuture studies, the gap-filling task can be applied to other sign languages, targeting alsoother construction types.