Getting the Upper Hand on Sign Language Families: Historical Analysis and Annotation Methods

Autor/a: ABNER, Natasha; GERACI, Carlo; YU, Shi; LETTIERI, Jessica; MERTZ, Justine; SALGAT, Anah
Año: 2020
Editorial: FEAST, Formal and Experimental Advances in Sign language Theory, Vol. 3 (2020) pp. 17-29
Tipo de código: Copyright
Soporte: Digital


Lingüística, Lingüística » Lingüística de otras Lenguas de Signos


Sign languages are conventionalized linguistic systems that vary across communities ofusers and change as they are transmitted across generations or come into contact withother languages, signed or spoken. That is, the social and linguistic phenomena that arefamiliar from the study of spoken language families and historical linguistic analysis ofspoken languages are also active in sign languages. The study of sign language familiesand histories, however, is not as developed as in spoken languages. Here, we discussthe methodological and circumstantial factors contributing to this disparity. We alsoreport on the preliminary stages of a long-term, large-scale study of sign language families. We summarize the family structures suggested by a historical records analysis of 24sign languages. Given the limitations of this approach for sign languages, however, wealso propose a lexicostatistic analysis using contemporary quantitative methods and describe annotation tools and strategies that can facilitate this approach. This research isaimed at improving our understanding of the historical pressures that are shared acrosslanguage modalities as well as the quantitative and qualitative differences that may existin the diachrony of sign versus speech.