Hesitation Markers in Sign Language of the Netherlands A Corpus-Based Study

Autor/a: SPIJKER, Laura; OOMEN, Marloes
Año: 2023
Editorial: Sign Language Studies, 23(2), 164-196
Tipo de código: Copyright
Soporte: Digital


Lingüística » Lingüística de otras Lenguas de Signos


We present one of the first detailed studies on hesitation marking in a sign language. Based on the analysis of a set of monologues and dialogues from the Corpus NGT (Crasborn and Zwitserlood 2008; Crasborn, Zwitserlood, and Ros 2008), we describe the form and position of manual and nonmanual markers of hesitation in Sign Language of the Netherlands (NGT). We show that palm-up, used as a hesitation marker, is akin to a "filled pause" in spoken language, both in its formal properties and its distribution. palm-up is regularly used to mark hesitation in dialogues, but far less commonly in monologues, which we suggest indicates that palm-up is used deliberately by signers to signal a delay in signing (cf. e.g., Maclay and Osgood 1959). Other manual markers of hesitation include sign holds and breaks in signing; their form and patterning in the data suggest they are closer to "unfilled pauses" in speech. As for nonmanuals, we show that all instances of hesitation in our data are marked by a change in the direction of eye gaze, suggesting that this is a clear pragmatic cue that signers use—intentionally or not—to signal a planning problem in signing. This fits well with previous observations that eye gaze plays an important role in turn-taking regulation in sign languages (e.g., Baker 1977).