Modality differences in sign language phonology and morphophonemics

Autor/a: BRENTARI, Diane
Año: 2002
Editorial: Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002
Tipo de código: Copyright
Soporte: Digital


Lingüística, Lingüística » Lingüística de otras Lenguas de Signos


In this chapter it is taken as given that phonology is the level of grammatical analysis where primitive structural units without meaning are combined to create an infinite number of meaningful utterances. It is the level of grammar that has a direct link with the articulatory and perceptual phonetic systems, either visual–gestural or auditory–vocal. There has been work on sign language phonology for about 40 years now, and at the beginning of just about every piece on the topic there is some statement like the following:

"The goal is, then, to propose a model of ASL [American Sign Language] grammar at a level that is clearly constrained by both the physiology and by the grammatical rules. To the extent that this enterprise is successful, it will enable us to closely compare the structures of spoken and signed languages and begin to address the broader questions of language universals... (Sandler 1989: vi)".

The goal of this chapter is to articulate some of the differences between the phonology of signed and spoken languages that have been brought to light in the last 40 years and to illuminate the role that the physiological bases have in defining abstract units, such as the segment, syllable, and word. There are some who hold a view that sign languages are just like spoken languages except for the substance of the features (Perlmutter 1992).

En: Richard P. Meier, Kearsy Cormier & David Quinto-Pozos (eds.), Modality and structure in signed and spoken languages, pp. 35-63