Author Topic: Differences between signed languages and spoken languages  (Read 10226 times)

Offline Daniel

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Differences between signed languages and spoken languages
« on: January 02, 2014, 09:02:12 PM »
I've been recently doing a bit of research about signed languages because I have been in general looking at grammars (of mostly spoken languages) to investigate the functions and properties of conjunctions. I've also been thinking about linearization, from clearly non-linear (highly structured, in one way or another) meaning to a linear output in phonology over time.

The parallels between spoken languages and signed languages are remarkable, and I'm not questioning those at all. But I do think there are some fundamental differences in the signal.

Obviously there is one difference: spoken languages are produced orally with the vocal tract and perceived aurally with the ears; signed languages are produced manually with the hands (mostly) and perceived visually with the eyes. I think this may lead to other less obvious differences in the signal.


1. Conjunctions seem extremely rare in signed languages!
There are some, but they're semantically full. They're not the basic types like "that" or "and". Some spoken languages also lack overt conjunctions, but I haven't found any signed languages that have them. Why is this?
One possibility is that conjunctions are a special kind of diachronic residue that take a very long time to develop, more time than most signed languages have been around for. But that doesn't seem like a very strong argument. Another possibility is chance, but the proportions seem unlikely. That leaves a causal effect: something about signing means conjunctions don't develop. I'd say that suggests that signing doesn't require conjunctions. Why? The answer may be that the function is easily handled otherwise.
In several cases I've found that non-manual gestures, especially blinking (sometimes head nods, etc.), accompany the "non-overt conjunction" or clause boundary. In one case, I think a shoulder turn was used, suggesting a change of topic or perhaps additional information. I wonder whether these non-manual movements could actually be considered conjunctions!

So while I've found some interesting information, mostly about a widespread lack of conjunctions and the very intriguing possibility that they are encoded non-manually, I haven't found any general research on conjunctions in signed languages!
The only literature I've come across in any significant way is about the reported absence of subordination in signed languages, which, unsurprisingly, turned out to be very false. That mentions sometimes that there is no overt linker between clauses but rarely discusses it at all.

In general, I'd be very interested on data for conjunctions in signed languages if it exists (that was my original interest), but now I'd also like to know why they don't seem to exist in signed languages!
(Also, I'm not strictly interested in overt coordinators and subordinators. I'm just starting there because they're, obviously, the easiest to investigate. For covert conjunctions I first need to assume their existence. That's a later step of my project. In fact, I don't see them as very different anyway, but again it's just harder to analyze them at the surface level.)


2. Although signed languages are still linearized, there are multiple channels.
The most obvious aspect is that two hands can be used at the same time for different purposes; I even found some discussion of two apparently independent sentences (overlapping temporally in the semantics) being articulated at the same time, one on each hand, as a kind of fast speech phenomenon, eliding the two-hand gestures as required. But at the very least, it would be easy to articulate, say, two nouns at the same time (perhaps instead of using a conjunction) with two hands. More than that, one hand might give additional information for what the other is conveying.
But beyond the hands, there are several other articulators like the eyes, face in general, head and shoulders, and perhaps others like the legs and feet.
So rounding down, there are at least three channels for signed languages-- two hands and the rest of the body. This is just not part of spoken language. Sure, there are instances of secondary articulation or consonants like "gb", but those are still with one general articulator (the mouth), and a single hand could easily do the same thing (eg, finger and thumb). What's interesting is that signed languages have up to double the basic articulatory space, plus additional ways to add to that like with the eyes. Spoken languages could utilize gesture, but very very rarely does it seem to matter at a fundamental grammatical level (though I've heard of exceptions where, for example, demonstratives are formed with the hands-- an Australian language I heard about in passing. I should look up the reference).
One possible similarity for spoken language would be prosody. We can convey a lot on top of our words. So arguably we have two linear channels available. But then prosody would be available for signed languages too, of course.
This suggests two things:
1) Humans can produce and perceive multiple channels at one time, even if our primary means of producing speech is only with one articulator.
2) The medium of transmission affects the form. Multi-channel linearization gives signed languages more options. This also highlights that linearization has a major effect on language-- what we see (in linearized form) is far from whatever the underlying structure is.

Perhaps conjunctions don't exist within signed languages specifically because they're not as useful-- signed languages don't need to be as linearized or contain overt hints about relationships within the sentence.

I have found some general discussion here and there on the linearization and multi-articulator aspect of signed languages, but I haven't found any clear central source, still looking around.



So in general I'm interested in differences, but especially these two because they happen to be relevant for my research.

Sources on both would be much appreciated!




I'll also be taking ASL starting in a few weeks, so signing has been on my mind for that reason too. I look forward to the challenge is speaking without speaking (with my mouth-- I have a habit of using it a lot, perhaps too much). They say that a hard part of learning ASL is learning to not use one's mouth, but I think I'll actually be very good at it-- I type/chat/email so often that I have, I think, learned to channel my linguistic behavior away from my mouth as needed. But I'm sure it'll be a (fun) challenge :)


---
Two other thoughts:
1. This lack of information might just be due to a general lack of information: the amount of research on signed languages is comparatively little, which, I'd say, shows a significant gap in research that should be filled. It's certainly interesting. Not my area, but it is catching my attention.

2. Transcriptions for signed languages are counterintuitive and, as far as I can tell, very uninformative. Obviously it's a challenge, but I'd like to either understand the existing system better (capitalized letters for the words basically) if I'm missing something or see a better system in place. But I might not be able to follow the real data anyway; hoping that might change next semester.
« Last Edit: January 02, 2014, 09:07:20 PM by djr33 »
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Offline Corybobory

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Re: Differences between signed languages and spoken languages
« Reply #1 on: January 03, 2014, 06:10:54 AM »
That's interesting, I wouldn't expect signed languages to lack conjunctions, there must be a way that their meaning is expressed in another way so that they are unnecessary. I don't know anything else about it though I'm afraid!

The differences I do know about signed languages is that they are able to express graduality - there is the ability for a word to be articulated a little bit, a bit more, or very much so - and this could be used in emphasis or description I presume.

One interesting thing I read about signed languages is that young signers who grow up in a signing household aqcuire language faster, and develop a theory of mind sooner that either speakers growing up in a speaking household, or signers growing up in a speaking household.  There is a better understanding of spatiality as well in signers. It seems to have some different effects on cognition and learning!

This isn't the article I read on the above information, but it has the same findings:
http://www.asha.org/Publications/leader/2002/021203/f021203.htm
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Offline lx

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Re: Differences between signed languages and spoken languages
« Reply #2 on: January 03, 2014, 07:27:47 AM »
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The only literature I've come across in any significant way is about the reported absence of subordination in signed languages, which, unsurprisingly, turned out to be very false.
= This leads me to conclude you accept that subordination occurs at some level.
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For covert conjunctions I first need to assume their existence.
Just in order to understand your (complex!) question better, I think I'd need a clarification on how these two points in your question marry up together. One seems to be that you naturally accept subordination occurs, but at a covert level. Yet the other quotes seems to imply you're not sure they exist at all. Would you say there was a way for subordination to occur that isn't overtly visible but doesn't require the explanation of covert conjunctions? I can't see a way but that's why I'm asking.

Maybe along the parataxis->hypotaxis scale, the use of nuanced intonation helps reinforce separate block meanings that clearly show either coordination or subordination. A feature that maybe isn't easily implementable in signed languages from a point of view ofsubconscious (naturally-occurring) linguistic developments.

Is it just like a case of each phrase being its own sentence? My knowledge of sign languages is really poor. I need to rectify that pretty soon!
« Last Edit: January 03, 2014, 08:01:23 AM by lx »

Offline Daniel

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Re: Differences between signed languages and spoken languages
« Reply #3 on: January 03, 2014, 09:49:12 AM »
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That's interesting, I wouldn't expect signed languages to lack conjunctions, there must be a way that their meaning is expressed in another way so that they are unnecessary. I don't know anything else about it though I'm afraid!
There's a paper on "The grammaticalization of WRONG in American Sign Language", where 'wrong' or 'make an error' grammaticalized as a conjunction for something like "in order to avoid doing X" or "even though", but I can't remember the details and can't now find the paper online. So semantically full conjunctions do exist just as they do in spoken languages. But I haven't found any information at all on a semantically empty conjunction like "and" or "that". I'm more interested in coordination so I've been looking for that specifically. But I've also noticed a lack of thats.
So... yes, there must be something about the systems that don't require conjunctions. That leads to the question: what about spoken languages makes conjunctions helpful?

One possibility, suggested by some, is that "complexity" like subordination evolves with writing. That's probably false. But it might be the case that overt conjunctions like "that" are especially useful in writing or even in spoken literature (epic poems, etc.). So, if there's any truth to that, I wonder if there are any similar traditions in signed languages-- are there any signed myths that are passed from generation to generation? Is there any convention of "literature"? Maybe not, given that many signers do learn to read and would use that form instead. This might be entirely irrelevant, but it's vaguely plausible that there could be some effect of genre on the development of overt conjunctions. We tend to use conjunctions a lot less in spoken language compared to written language. Intonation often does the job. Maybe it's the same in signed languages??

Quote
The differences I do know about signed languages is that they are able to express graduality - there is the ability for a word to be articulated a little bit, a bit more, or very much so - and this could be used in emphasis or description I presume.
Isn't that analogous to intonation, though? But maybe there's more flexibility in signed languages for prosodic purposes, though.

Quote
One interesting thing I read about signed languages is that young signers who grow up in a signing household aqcuire language faster, and develop a theory of mind sooner that either speakers growing up in a speaking household, or signers growing up in a speaking household.  There is a better understanding of spatiality as well in signers. It seems to have some different effects on cognition and learning!

This isn't the article I read on the above information, but it has the same findings:
http://www.asha.org/Publications/leader/2002/021203/f021203.htm
Interesting. Seems related to the trend of teaching babies "baby sign language" before they can speak. I wonder if this is a physical difference or actually a linguistic one. I'd assume the former, just like teaching Koko the gorilla sign language rather than speech, for obvious articulatory reasons.

Quote from: lx
= This leads me to conclude you accept that subordination occurs at some level.
Absolutely! It was originally claimed that subordination did not exist at all-- all sentences in signed languages were just strung together in order without any embedding. Further research proved that this claim was simply wrong-- bad evidence, bad analysis, and bad implications.
Structurally, embedded clauses do exist (although perhaps not with as much frequency as in, say, English) in cases like "I know that X" and so forth.

But what's still missing is the subordinator "that". The clauses are embedded, but there's nothing marking that, which is why the original investigators were mislead. For me, because I'm interested in coordinators, this either makes signed languages completely irrelevant and uninteresting or, as I'm beginning to think, very interesting!

Quote
Just in order to understand your (complex!) question better, I think I'd need a clarification on how these two points in your question marry up together. One seems to be that you naturally accept subordination occurs, but at a covert level. Yet the other quotes seems to imply you're not sure they exist at all. Would you say there was a way for subordination to occur that isn't overtly visible but doesn't require the explanation of covert conjunctions? I can't see a way but that's why I'm asking.
Here are two examples of subordination in English, one with an overt conjunction and one with either no conjunction or a covert conjunction:
I know [that you are a linguist].
I know [you are a linguist].
I don't think anyone would claim that the sentences have different structures. It just happens that one has a subordinator and the other has no overt marker. Some languages only have the unmarked strategy*. And it seems that signed languages are in that category.
(*Within spoken languages these are often found in understudied languages, not the major languages of Europe. For example, Australian languages sometimes have no markers of this sort. I'm not sure about subordination as much as I am coordination, but I know it's a general pattern that can be found for either.)
Coordination without a coordinator is harder to demonstrate within English (but it is found in many languages around the world) but here's a relatively simple example that seems to make sense:
[I'm happy], and [you're sad].
[I'm happy], [you're sad].
At least on some analyses (including mine) those have the same structure.


So I'm assuming that signed languages share the same structures (roughly) with spoken languages. What I'm wondering about is why the clause boundaries are not marked overtly with coordinators and subordinators.

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Would you say there was a way for subordination to occur that isn't overtly visible but doesn't require the explanation of covert conjunctions?
This is a very complicated question, so perhaps we should avoid it. In a traditional analysis, no. That's why covert conjunctions are assumed to exist. But actually I'm beginning to think that this is exactly what happens, because conjunctions don't exist at all in a structure even in a language like English, but rather that conjunctions are phonological markers of clause boundaries and relations that encode parsing information. They're part of linearization, not part of meaning. An exception, of course, is for semantically full conjunctions, but those would probably involve some indirect way of associating that meaning with the whole sentence. In short, I see conjunctions as something like intonation-- they help in parsing but are not part of the structure.
Did that clarify or just confuse? :P

Quote
Maybe along the parataxis->hypotaxis scale, the use of nuanced intonation helps reinforce separate block meanings that clearly show either coordination or subordination. A feature that maybe isn't easily implementable in signed languages from a point of view ofsubconscious (naturally-occurring) linguistic developments.
Could you explain a bit more?
I'm not sure I accept a "parataxis>hypotaxis" scale. I agree completely with the idea that coordination and subordination are more complicated than a simple binary distinction, but I don't think it's really on a scale. I think there are some other factors going on, so that with around 5 variables you can categorize the various uses. But it might be more complicated.
Anyway, beyond that, what do you mean about the implications for signed languages? I didn't follow that last part.

Quote
Is it just like a case of each phrase being its own sentence?
That's what the original (incorrect) research claimed. Just like claims about Pirahã there's no embedding, at least of clauses. This is false. But what remains is the mystery of why this embedding is not marked by a conjunction.
Quote
My knowledge of sign languages is really poor. I need to rectify that pretty soon!
Same here!
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Offline lx

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Re: Differences between signed languages and spoken languages
« Reply #4 on: January 03, 2014, 10:35:49 AM »
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Did that clarify or just confuse? :P
It Conlarified and clarifused8)
Quote
Could you explain a bit more?
I'm not sure I accept a "parataxis>hypotaxis" scale. I agree completely with the idea that coordination and subordination are more complicated than a simple binary distinction, but I don't think it's really on a scale. I think there are some other factors going on, so that with around 5 variables you can categorize the various uses. But it might be more complicated.
Anyway, beyond that, what do you mean about the implications for signed languages? I didn't follow that last part.
Sorry, what I meant by scale was the grammaticalisation process. The parataxis->hypotaxis is observable everywhere. English, for example, didn't have any hypotactic (subordinating) features at one point, they developed. When a language doesn't have subordination (so therefore uses parataxis), which was extremely common in earlier PIE-derived languages, then subordinating/hypotactic grammaticalisation ensues. It's not a synchronic scale, but a diacronic one (therefore better considered as a process). A few years ago when I was taking a History of English class, our lecturer talked extensively about the development of subordination and showed that it happened in gradual stages, analogous to many other processions of grammaticalisation and how usage extends to more syntactic environments and takes over more of a semantic identity. I wish I could find those slides but they were on an older laptop.
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So I'm assuming that signed languages share the same structures (roughly) with spoken languages.
Based on what evidence? I'm being a bit of a devil's advocate here but I saw your claims about spoken language and I can see how we can have presence/absence and can derive a conclusion that there is nothing fundamentally different about the structure in those cases, but to extrapolate that conclusion to a scenario of a wholly different class of languages and presuppose that consistent absence implies covert presence. I think that's quite a mighty jump that does need some explanatory  basis rather than just being stated as an initial assumption that should be accepted immediately.

You've said subordination exists in signed languages, but it seems it's difficult to show it. That's got me wondering whether this assumption has framed your perspective into the idea that there must be some sort of subordination. Many, many languages (including English) never had subordination at one point, so I don't personally see it as a big deal for it to be the case that signed languages might not have it (as I said, I am not very wise on the topic of what features they do or do not possess) and that's why I am just keen to target this assumption, which, in the light of a lack of evidence, I think warrants a bit more explanation before we take it as a given.

Basically, if you could explain how the other researchers were proven wrong about their assumption of no subordination, that'll be enough to bring me on board. :)
« Last Edit: January 03, 2014, 10:40:36 AM by lx »

Offline Daniel

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Re: Differences between signed languages and spoken languages
« Reply #5 on: January 03, 2014, 11:11:32 AM »
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Based on what evidence?
Both the null hypothesis that all languages tend to be complex and have embedding structures, and evidence from the literature. I could give you some references if you want. There has been quite a bit written on this.

Ah: here's a good (and free) reference:
"The quest for syntactic dependency. Sentential complementation in Sign Language of the Netherlands."
http://www.lotpublications.nl/publish/articles/000732/bookpart.pdf‎
It discusses a lot of the difficulties in "finding" subordination as well as much of the previous research. It's a full dissertation (so it's a bit long to read in detail!) but you can skim it for the general info.


As for the rest, I'd like to address it, but let me first take a step back to ask about some definitions.
These are hard terms to define, but let's see if we're on the same page with all of this. Please define: subordination, parataxis, hypotaxis, embedding.
Personally I'm using "subordination" in the most general sense as equivalent to embedding and hypotaxis. These terms are used inconsistently and sometimes with specific implications in the literature, though.
Also, I'm not sure a single definition really covers all of it, but as a starting point, let's focus on argument structure: a clause is subordinated if it's an argument within another: "I know [that you are a linguist]", "I know X".
Whether or not there is an actual overt word like "that" is irrelevant.

Quote
Many, many languages (including English) never had subordination at one point
This is potentially a definitional issue (see above). But in the strongest sense, this claim is very, very controversial.
There is some literature out there (what I mentioned above about literary/writing developments) that suggests that "subordination" developed after Proto Indo-European, but that's older and I don't think it's widely accepted any more. I was recently reading about relative clauses in PIE, for example, and I see no reason to believe that languages have become significantly more complex (or more embedding) in the past several thousand years.
As for English, what do you mean? I think there was subordination in older English, Old English, Proto-Germanic and PIE. But again this might be definitional.

One specific issue may be whether finite subordination existed in early IE languages or PIE. I think that's mostly what was focused on in some of that research. I still don't think that we can rule out having that in PIE (especially with relative clauses for example), but I don't really care if it's finite or non-finite. It's still embedded. Languages differ significantly on what kinds of embedding they allow, but these are just (to me) minor variations.
One way where this becomes very interesting for sign languages is that they don't tend to have a lot of obvious morphology on the verbs that would distinguish "finite" and "nonfinite" verb forms, so it's hard to know whether an embedding is an "infinitive" or "participle" or "finite verb" because they're all just the bare form (sort of like English sometimes-- consider some infinitives, the present tense and imperatives; and also other isolating languages). I don't know much about the morphological typology of sign languages (I do know that some agreement exists) so maybe there are some cases where that could be investigated in more detail.



Mithun has written about the presence of subordination without markers extensively.
http://www.linguistics.ucsb.edu/faculty/mithun/publications.html
2012 "Exuberant complexity" is one place to start, along with the references in that.
« Last Edit: January 03, 2014, 11:53:56 AM by djr33 »
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Offline MalFet

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Re: Differences between signed languages and spoken languages
« Reply #6 on: January 03, 2014, 09:51:18 PM »
The perennial challenge in signed language linguistics is that there is not yet a clear model of constituency. At risk of saying overly controversial things without explaining fully, I'd go so far as to argue that the evidence for synchronic/competency-driven phonology is thin at best. Across the board (and at least in the signed languages I've worked on), it's just not apparent what the basic units of the signal are.

As a result, most conversations in the literature about SL coordination and subordination are built on sand. If we don't know what makes up a syntactic constituent, we sure as heck don't know what a coordinator or subordinator is. These are concepts inherited from the study of spoken languages, and it's not obvious that they apply without significant reconsideration.

Offline Daniel

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Re: Differences between signed languages and spoken languages
« Reply #7 on: January 03, 2014, 10:38:48 PM »
Interesting ideas. But doesn't what you're saying suggest that, whatever is going on, there are not near equivalents to English "and" in signed languages, as there are in other spoken languages like Spanish or Russian?

In the way that we would find some translation of English "car" into some hand shape (+motion?), we don't find that with "and", correct?


As for exactly how to determine the structure of coordinated constituents and subordinated constituents, I'd agree entirely, although semantics seems to be a general indicator in many ways.



This reminds me of the ending to the film about Everett's work on Pirahã, The Grammar of Happiness. (Sorry, slight spoilers ahead.)
The whole film emphasizes the oddness of Pirahã. At the end, ironically, one of the Pirahã men says in an interview (translated):
"We miss Dan. We wish that the [Brazilian] government would let him return to us."
Now I genuinely don't know what the structure is in Pirahã, but it's pretty clear to me that whatever devices they were using, there was some conceptual subordination going on, arguably even argument structure.
They're certainly, and again ironically, talking about something other than the "here and now", and, for that matter, "happiness".
It seems to prove Dan's thesis: the Pirahã don't use strategies like subordination because they don't need them... usually.

But anyway, back to signed languages, I don't know that it's so hard to know that embedding exists, while exactly how it exists may certainly be a mystery.
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Offline MalFet

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Re: Differences between signed languages and spoken languages
« Reply #8 on: January 03, 2014, 11:07:54 PM »

Offline Daniel

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Re: Differences between signed languages and spoken languages
« Reply #9 on: January 03, 2014, 11:15:48 PM »
Huh. Why wasn't I able to find that? Again, I have no background in this.
I was looking in academic sources rather than tutorials. (I think I recognize that website/signer from a tutorial website, right?)

Is that an NP and VP conjunction?

But in general, ASL doesn't require any conjunction, right? That's optional?

And, now I'm curious, is it clear what the diachronic origin might be?
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Offline MalFet

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Re: Differences between signed languages and spoken languages
« Reply #10 on: January 03, 2014, 11:33:38 PM »
Is that an NP and VP conjunction?

Without an explicit theory of constituency, it's not clear what makes up NPs or VPs. Generally speaking, though, it can be used with both entities and predicates.

But in general, ASL doesn't require any conjunction, right? That's optional?

There are many ways to establish conjunction semantics, some of which are lexical and some of which are more complexly periphrastic. Like I said, without defining conjunction very clearly, I'm not really sure how to declare it optional or not.

Offline Daniel

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Re: Differences between signed languages and spoken languages
« Reply #11 on: January 03, 2014, 11:36:24 PM »
Quote
Without an explicit theory of constituency, it's not clear what makes up NPs or VPs. Generally speaking, though, it can be used with both entities and predicates.
I meant it generally like that. Ok. Interesting. (Some languages strictly use a "coordinator" with nouns, never verbs/sentences.)
Maybe that's a source for further investigation for me.
Any chance it's used in phrases like "go and get" or generally with semantics other than basic additive/logical 'and'? That may not be something you can answer, but it's my main research question, along with many others that the rest of the info is helpful for already.
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There are many ways to establish conjunction semantics, some of which are lexical and some of which are more complexly periphrastic. Like I said, without defining conjunction very clearly, I'm not really sure how to declare it optional or not.
Which is the dominant strategy for encoding, say, "I like dogs and cats"?
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Offline MalFet

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Re: Differences between signed languages and spoken languages
« Reply #12 on: January 03, 2014, 11:46:34 PM »
Any chance it's used in phrases like "go and get" or generally with semantics other than basic additive/logical 'and'? That may not be something you can answer, but it's my main research question, along with many others that the rest of the info is helpful for already.

It is used in non-compositional idioms, if that's what you're asking.

Which is the dominant strategy for encoding, say, "I like dogs and cats"?

It would depend almost entirely on the discourse context and register. It could be anything from a lexical "AND" to a spatial diagram.

Offline Daniel

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Re: Differences between signed languages and spoken languages
« Reply #13 on: January 03, 2014, 11:54:19 PM »
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It is used in non-compositional idioms, if that's what you're asking.
Including verbal ones? Not just "macaroni and cheese" but something with a little more structure in it, just not default "&" semantics.
Any chance you have a suggestion for a reference on that? It's something I'd like to look into further, beyond this thread.
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It would depend almost entirely on the discourse context and register. It could be anything from a lexical "AND" to a spatial diagram.
If that's the case, then I can't imagine it's really equivalent to English where very clearly "and" is the default strategy for that sentence. I don't know how relevant that is, but if it's sort of optional (at least by selection of several structures for roughly equivalent meanings) and not an obvious default, then it doesn't seem quite as salient as in some spoken languages-- but certainly also like other spoken languages.



And for the record, another possibility to explain everything I claimed above is simply that it wasn't documented (in the sources I could find). There might be overt conjunctions of various types in most signed languages, and I just didn't see any evidence for them. I was actually hoping to find some.
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Offline MalFet

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Re: Differences between signed languages and spoken languages
« Reply #14 on: January 04, 2014, 12:14:52 AM »
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It is used in non-compositional idioms, if that's what you're asking.
Including verbal ones? Not just "macaroni and cheese" but something with a little more structure in it, just not default "&" semantics.
Any chance you have a suggestion for a reference on that? It's something I'd like to look into further, beyond this thread.

I don't know of any specific reference, but at least a few different South Asian signed languages do this extensively with causal dependency structures. If you get beyond lexical conjunction, there are a lot of idiomatic verb conjunctions expressed spatially.

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It would depend almost entirely on the discourse context and register. It could be anything from a lexical "AND" to a spatial diagram.
If that's the case, then I can't imagine it's really equivalent to English where very clearly "and" is the default strategy for that sentence. I don't know how relevant that is, but if it's sort of optional (at least by selection of several structures for roughly equivalent meanings) and not an obvious default, then it doesn't seem quite as salient as in some spoken languages-- but certainly also like other spoken languages.

Well, certainly it's not equivalent to English. I don't see why that should suggest that conjunction is not salient.