Skip to main content
×
×
Home

finish variation and grammaticalization in a signed language: How far down this well-trodden pathway is Auslan (Australian Sign Language)?

  • Trevor Johnston (a1), Donovan Cresdee (a1), Adam Schembri (a2) and Bencie Woll (a3)
Abstract

Language variation is often symptomatic of ongoing historical change, including grammaticalization. Signed languages lack detailed historical records and a written literature, so tracking grammaticalization in these languages is problematic. Grammaticalization can, however, also be observed synchronically through the comparison of data on variant word forms and multiword constructions in particular contexts and in different dialects and registers. In this paper, we report an investigation of language change and variation in Auslan (Australian Sign Language). Signs glossed as finish were tagged for function (e.g., verb, noun, adverb, auxiliary, conjunction), variation in production (number of hands used, duration, mouthing), position relative to the main verb (pre- or postmodifying), and event types of the clauses in which they appear (states, activities, achievements, accomplishments). The data suggest ongoing grammaticalization may be part of the explanation of the variation—variants correlate with different uses in different linguistic contexts, rather than social and individual factors.

Copyright
References
Hide All
Aronoff, Mark, Meir, Irit, & Sandler, Wendy. (2005). The paradox of sign language morphology. Language 81(2):301344.
Baker, Charlotte, & Cokely, Dennis. (1980). American Sign Language: A teacher's resource text on grammar and culture. Silver Spring, MD: T. J. Publishers.
Baker, Philip, & Syea, Anand (eds.). (1996). Changing meanings, changing functions: Papers relating to grammaticalization in contact languages. London: University of Westminster Press.
Bank, Richard, Crasborn, Onno, & van Hout, Roeland. (2011). Variation in mouth actions with manual signs in Sign Language of the Netherlands (NGT). Sign Language & Linguistics 14(2):248270.
Bergman, Brita, & Dahl, Osten. (1994). Ideophones in sign language? The place of reduplication in the tense-aspect system of Swedish Sign Language. In Bache, C., Basboll, H. & Lindberg, C. E. (eds.), Tense, aspect and action: Empirical and theoretical contributions to language typology. Vol. 12. Berlin: Mouton De Gruyter. 397442.
Boyes-Braem, Penny, & Sutton-Spence, Rachel (eds.). (2001). The hands are the head of the mouth: The mouth as articulator in sign languages. Hamburg: Signum Press.
Brennan, Mary. (1983). Marking time in British Sign Language. In Kyle, J. G. & Woll, B. (eds.), Language in sign: An international perspective on sign language. London: Croom Helm. 1031.
Bybee, Joan, Perkins, Revere, & Pagliuca, William. (1994). The evolution of grammar: Tense, aspect, and modality in the languages of the world. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Chambers, John K. (1995). Sociolinguistic theory: Linguistic variation and its social significance. Oxford: Blackwell.
Comrie, Bernard. (1976). Aspect. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Fischer, Susan D. (1978). Sign language and creoles. In Siple, P. (ed.), Understanding language through sign language research. New York: Academic Press. 309331.
Fischer, Susan D, & Gough, Bonnie. (1999 [1972]). Some unfinished thoughts on FINISH. Sign Language & Linguistics 2(1):6777.
Heine, Bernd. (2002). On the role of context in grammaticalization. In Wischer, I. & Diewald, G. (eds.), New reflections on grammaticalization. Amsterdam: Benjamins. 83102.
Heine, Bernd. (2011). Grammaticalization in African languages. In Narrog, H. & Heine, B. (eds.), The Oxford handbook of grammaticalization. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 696707.
Heine, Bernd, & Kuteva, Tania. (2002). World lexicon of grammaticalization. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Heine, Bernd, & Kuteva, Tania. (2005). Language contact and grammatical change. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Hopper, Paul J. (1991). On some principles of grammaticization. In Traugott, E. C. & Heine, B. (eds.), Approaches to grammaticalization. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. 1735.
Janzen, Terry. (1995). The polygrammaticalization of FINISH in ASL. Master's thesis, University of Manitoba.
Janzen, Terry. (2012). Lexicalization and grammaticalization. In Pfau, R., Steinbach, M., & Woll, B. (eds.), Sign languages: An international handbook. Berlin: De Gruyter. 816840.
Janzen, Terry, & Shaffer, Barbara. (2002). Gesture as the substrate in the process of ASL grammaticization. In Meier, R. P., Cormier, K. A., & Quinto-Pozos, D. (eds.), Modality and structure in signed and spoken languages. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 199223.
Johnson, Daniel Ezra. (2009). Getting off the GoldVarb standard: Introducing Rbrul for mixed-effects variable rule analysis. Language and Linguistics Compass 3(1):359383.
Johnston, Trevor. (1989). Auslan: The sign language of the Australian deaf community. PhD dissertation, University of Sydney.
Johnston, Trevor. (2001). Nouns and verbs in Auslan (Australian Sign Language): An open and shut case? Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education 6(4):235257.
Johnston, Trevor. (2010). From archive to corpus: Transcription and annotation in the creation of signed language corpora. International Journal of Corpus Linguistics 15(1):104129.
Johnston, Trevor. (2012). Lexical frequency in sign languages. Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education 17(2):163193.
Johnston, Trevor. (2014). The Auslan Corpus Annotation Guidelines. [Last updated June 2014]. Available at: http://www.auslan.org.au/about/annotations/. Accessed June 30, 2014.
Johnston, Trevor, & Schembri, Adam. (2004). Grammaticization and iconicity in Auslan (Australian Sign Language). Paper presented at the Sixth High Desert Linguistics Conference, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM, November 4–6, 2004.
Johnston, Trevor, & Schembri, Adam. (2006). Issues in the creation of a digital archive of a signed language. In Barwick, L. & Thieberger, N. (eds.), Sustainable data from digital fieldwork: Proceedings of the conference held at the University of Sydney, 4–6 December 2006. Sydney: Sydney University Press. 716.
Johnston, Trevor, & Schembri, Adam. (2007). Australian Sign Language (Auslan): An introduction to sign language linguistics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Johnston, T, van Roekel, J, & Schembri, A. (in press). The conventionalization of mouth actions in Auslan (Australian Sign Language). Language and Speech.
Leeson, Lorraine. (2001). Aspects of verbal valency in ISL. PhD dissertation, Trinity College, University of Dublin.
Lucas, Ceil, Bayley, Robert, & Valli, Clayton. (2001). Sociolinguistic variation in American Sign Language. Washington, DC: Gallaudet University Press.
Lucas, Ceil, & Valli, Clayton. (1989). Language contact in the American deaf community. In Lucas, C. (ed.), The sociolinguistics of the deaf community. San Diego: Academic Press. 1140.
Madsen, William J. (1972). Conversational sign language II: An intermediate-advanced manual. Washington, DC: Gallaudet College Press.
Maroney, Elisa. (2004). Aspect in ASL: A typological-functional analysis. Proceedings of the Annual Meeting of the Berkeley Linguistics Society 30(1):244255.
Meir, Irit. (1999). A perfect marker in Israeli Sign Language. Sign Language & Linguistics 2(1):4367.
Meir, Irit. (2012). Word classes and word formation. In Pfau, R., Steinbach, M., & Woll, B. (eds.), Sign languages: An international handbook. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter. 77111.
Pagliuca, William (ed.). (1994). Perspectives on grammaticalization. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
Payne, Thomas E. (1997). Describing morphosyntax: A guide for field linguistics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Pfau, Roland, & Quer, Josep. (2010). Nonmanuals: Their grammatical and prosodic roles. In Brentari, D. (ed.), Sign languages. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 381402.
Pfau, Roland, & Steinbach, Markus. (2006). Modality-independent and modality-specific aspects of grammaticalization in sign languages. Linguistics in Potsdam 24:398. Available at: http://www.ling.uni-postdam.de/lip/. Accessed April 5, 2007.
Pfau, Roland, & Steinbach, Markus. (2011). Grammaticalization in sign languages. In Heine, B. & Narrog, H. (eds.), Handbook of grammaticalization. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 683695.
Poplack, Shana, & Tagliamonte, Sali. (1996). Nothing in context: Variation, grammaticalizaton and past time marking in Nigerian Pidgin English. In Baker, P. & Syea, A. (eds.), Changing meanings, changing functions. Papers relating to grammaticalization in contact languages. Westminster: University Press. 7194.
Rathmann, Christian. (2005). Event structure in American Sign Language. PhD dissertation, University of Texas at Austin.
Schembri, Adam, Johnston, Trevor, Cormier, Kearsy, & Fenlon, Jordan. (2013). Sociolinguistic typology and sign languages. Paper presented at the 7th International Conference on Language Variation in Europe (ICLaVE), Trondheim, Norway.
Schembri, Adam, Johnston, Trevor, & Goswell, Della. (2006). NAME dropping: Location variation in Australian Sign Language. In Lucas, C. (ed.), Multilingualism and sign languages: From the great plains to Australia. Vol. 12. Washington, DC: Gallaudet University Press. 121156.
Schwager, Waldemar, & Zeshan, Ulrike. (2008). Word classes in sign languages: Criteria and classifications. Studies in Language 32(3):509545.
Sexton, Amy L. (1999). Grammaticalization in American Sign Language. Language Sciences 21:105141.
Smith, Carlota. (1997). The parameter of aspect. Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publications.
Spaountzaki, Galini. (2005). Free functional elements of tense, aspect, modality and agreement as possible auxiliaries in Greek Sign Language. PhD dissertation, Centre for Deaf Studies, University of Bristol.
Supalla, Ted, & Newport, Elissa L. (1978). How many seats in a chair? The derivation of nouns and verbs in American Sign Language. In Siple, P. (ed.), Understanding language through sign language research. New York: Academic Press. 91132.
Sutton-Spence, Rachel, Woll, Bencie, & Allsop, Lorna. (1990). Variation and recent change in fingerspelling in British Sign Language. Language Variation and Change 2:313330.
Tagliamonte, Sali. (2011). Variationist sociolinguistics: Change, observation, interpretation. Hoboken: Wiley-Blackwell.
Trudgill, Peter. (2011). Sociolinguistic typology: Social determinants of linguistic complexity. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Vendler, Zeno. (1967). Linguistics in philosophy. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.
Walker, James A. (2010). Variation in linguistic systems. New York: Routledge.
Warren, Katherine Norton. (1978). Aspect marking in American Sign Language. In Siple, P. (ed.), Understanding language through sign language research. New York: Academic Press. 133159.
Wilcox, Sherman, Rossini, Paolo, & Pizzuto, Elena. (2012). Grammaticalization in sign languages. In Pfau, R., Steinbach, M., & Woll, B. (eds.), Sign languages: An international handbook. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter. 312331.
Wilcox, Sherman, & Wilcox, Phyllis. (1995). The gestural expression of modality in ASL. In Bybee, J. L. & Fleischmann, S. (eds.), Modality in grammar and discourse. Amsterdam: Benjamins. 135162.
Xiao, Zhonghua, & McEnery, Anthony. (2004). A corpus-based two-level model of situation aspect. Journal of Linguistics 40(2):325363.
Zeshan, Ulrike. (2003). Aspects of Türk Isaret Dili (Turkish Sign Language). Sign Language & Linguistics 6(1):4375.
Zucchi, Sandro. (2009). Along the time line: Tense and time adverbs in Italian Sign Language. Natural Language Semantics 17:99139.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Language Variation and Change
  • ISSN: 0954-3945
  • EISSN: 1469-8021
  • URL: /core/journals/language-variation-and-change
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×

Metrics

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed