Verb types and semantic maps

Autor/a: OOMEN, Marloes
Año: 2018
Editorial: FEAST, Formal and Experimental Advances in Sign language Theory, Vol. 2 (2018) pp. 116-131
Tipo de código: Copyright
Soporte: Digital


Lingüística, Lingüística » Lingüística de otras Lenguas de Signos


Verb classifications for sign languages are typically based on agreement properties (Padden 1988) and have also been suggested to be semantically grounded (Meir 1998, 2002). In light of the latter proposition, it is surprising that the semantics of verb types have not been explored in much depth. This study aims to investigate the semantic underpinnings of verb types. It is hypothesized that the semantic properties that govern case-frame selection in spoken languages (Hopper and Thompson 1980; Tsunoda 1981) similarly mediate verb type in sign languages. The rationale behind this idea is that many such properties have the potential to be expressed iconically in sign language verb forms. Particular constellations of features are thus expected to increase the likelihood of a verb to be of a certain type. To test this hypothesis, a method previously used to investigate the connection between verb semantics and transitivity in spoken languages (Malchukov 2005) is applied to data from German Sign Language (DGS). Overall, the results lend credibility to the supposition that case marking systems in spoken languages and the verb-type system in sign languages are sensitive to the same underlying semantic factors, underscoring the centrality of these notions in language. In addition, the results offer a finer-grained picture of the semantics of verbs of different types, and enable us to formulate predictions about the scope of diachronic change and synchronic and cross-linguistic variation in this domain.