Is Hong Kong Sign Language a discourse-configurational language?

Autor/a: SZE, Felix
Año: 2006
Editorial: Brazil: Arara Azul, 2006
Tipo de código: Copyright
Soporte: Digital


Lingüística » Lingüística de otras Lenguas de Signos


Findings from previous studies show that constituent order in sign languages is to a large extent determined by discourse factors such as topic and focus. ASL, BSL and ISL are claimed to be topic-prominent languages (Janzen 1995, 1999, Deuchar 1984, Rosenstein 2001). Wilbur (1997), on the other hand, proposes that the surface word order of ASL is determined by what information is in focus. This paper presents the preliminary findings of an attempt to investigate the extent to which Hong Kong Sign Language (HKSL hereafter) can be considered topic-prominent and focus-prominent according to the notion of discourse configurationality defined by Kiss (1995, 1997, 2001). Within the framework of generative grammar, Kiss proposes that a language is discourse-configurational if it links either or both of the discourse-semantic functions topic and focus to particular structural positions: topic-prominent languages encode the topic function structurally whereas the focus-prominent languages encode the focus function structurally. With elicited data from and intuition of four HKSL native deaf signers, I would like to argue that HKSL is probably not a topic-prominent language owing to the fact that the difference between thetic and categorical judgment is not clearly reflected syntactically as in other topic-prominent languages. My data, however, provides preliminary evidence that HKSL is focus-prominent because assigning the focused constituent to a post-verbal position is one of the ways identification focus can be manifested in the grammar.

En: Sign Languages: spinning and unraveling the past, present and future. TISLR 9: forty five papers and three posters from the 9th Theoretical Issues in Sign Language Research Conference, pp. 598-612.