- Dit evenement is voorbij.
ACLC Seminar | Markus Steinbach: Is there anything special about special signs? A cross-modal study of a special class of parts of speech in spoken and sign languages
mei 12 @ 4:15 pm - 5:30 pm
Organized by the Amsterdam Center for Language and Communication! (ACLC)
- Speaker: Markus Steinbach
- Location: P.C. Hoofthuis
- Room: 5.59
- Title: Is there anything special about special signs? A cross-modal study of a special class of parts of speech in spoken and sign languages
- Abstract: A special class of lexical items frequently used in many different signs languages are so-called special signs, a particularly interesting part of speech that has not yet received much attention in linguistic research (Brennan 1992, Johnston & Schembri 1999, Johnston & Ferrara 2012, Konrad 2011, 2014, Schütte 2014). Special signs, which are sometimes also called multi-channel signs, ‘Gebärdenwendungen’, ‘(sign language) idioms’, or idiomatic signs, form a relatively small open class of conventionalized expressions (approx. 200 signs in German Sign Language, DGS) with unique formal properties different from lexical signs and gestural demonstrations. In addition, the meaning of special signs is flexible and highly context dependent and often translated into spoken languages with the help of complex idiomatic expressions. Based on examples taken from the DGS corpus, we discuss modality-independent and modality-dependent properties of special signs and argue that both their flexible ‘idiomatic’ meaning and their special formal properties show interesting similarities with ideophones in spoken languages (Dingemanse 2012, 2019; Dingemanse & Akita 2019; Barnes et al. 2022). We argue that the defining properties of ideophones discussed in the literature also apply (to a certain degree) to special signs in DGS. One result of this cross-modal comparison is that sign languages just like many spoken languages seem to have a special open class of marked lexical expressions that depict sensory imagery. Unlike ideophones in spoken languages, the depiction with special signs in sign languages is not auditory but visual. And unlike other iconic lexical expressions in sign languages, special signs can be analyzed as ‘idiomatic’ depictive context-dependent expressions with an expressive meaning component.