Stress in ASL: empirical evidence and linguistic issues

Autor/a: WILBUR, Ronnie
Año: 1999
Editorial: Language and Speech, Vol. 42, nº 2–3 (1999) pp. 229–250
Tipo de código: Copyright
Soporte: Digital


Lingüística » Lingüística de otras Lenguas de Signos


The study of signed languages provides an opportunity to identify those characteristics of language that are universal and to investigate the effect of production modality (signed vs. spoken) on the grammar. Over time, American Sign Language (ASL) has accommodated itself to the production and perception requirements of the manual/visual modality, resulting in a prosodic system that is comparable in function to spoken languages but different in means of expression. The present focus is on phrasal prominence in ASL. I review the marking of stress and phrase boundaries in ASL, and discuss prominence assignment at the phrasal level, with brief mention of lexical stress. At the kinematic level, there is a modality effect in marking of linguistic prominence but no modality effect with respect to marking phrase position. Of significance is the fact that ASL lacks phrasal prominence plasticity, that is the ability to move prominence to mark focus in a sentence location other than phrase final. I review the typological implications of how ASL handles prominence as compared to other languages.