Exposition of the grammatical structure of sign language
Keywords:Grammatical structure, Sign language, Sign language rules
Many people hardly believe that sign language is a fully fledged language. Some people mistakenly think that sign language is oral language conveyed through signs while some think that it is a manual code of English for instance. They think that it is a type of pantomime (exaggerated set of signs) rather than a real language. There are also misconceptions among the public that sign language can only be used to express concrete information and that it is universal. Signs in a sign language have been regarded simply as unanalysable iconic gestures with little or no internal organisation at all. To the contrary, linguistic research has however demonstrated beyond reasonable doubt that sign languages of the world are fully fledged languages with their own formal grammatical structures and well established lexicons. William Stokoe (1960) was the first researcher to demonstrate that signs of a sign language have an internal sub lexical structure analogous to that found in words of spoken languages. Thus, sign language is comparable to spoken language both in terms of complexity and expressiveness. It is not a manual rendition of oral language, but an independent formal language in its own right. In addition, sign language is not universal, but just like in the case of oral/spoken languages which are spoken by different people in different countries, deaf people around the world sign different sign languages. The sign language grammatical structure subscribes to the same linguistic rules enjoyed by oral language.
Acton, Q.A., 2012. Advances in manual communication research and application. Atlanta: Scholarly Edition.
Anderson, E.R., 1998. A Grammar of Iconism. New York: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press.
Aronoff, M., Meir, I., Padden, C., Sandler, W., 2004. Morphological universals and the sign language type. In Geert, B., van Marle, J. (ed) Yearbook of Morphology. Netherlands: Kluwer Academic Publishers.
Berent, I., Dupuis, A., Brentari, D., 2014. Phonological reduplication in sign language: Rules rule. Front. Psychol., 5(560), 1-15.
Binet, A., Simon, T., 1997. An investigation concerning the value of the oral method. Am. Ann. Deaf., 142(3), 35-45.
Branson, J., Miller, D., Marsaja, I.G., 1999. Sign language as natural part of linguistic mosaic: The impact of deaf people on discourse forms in Northern Bali, Indonesia. In Winston, E.(Ed). Story Telling and Conversation, Vol (5). Washington D.C: Gallaudet University Press.
Chimedza, R., Sithole, C.Z., Rinashe, H.M., 1998. Zimbabwe national sign language dictionary (Vol. 1). Harare: Ministry of Education, Sport and Culture.
Crystal, D., Graig, E., 1978. Contrived sign language. In Schlesinger, I., Namir, L. (Eds). Current Trends in the Study of Sign Languages of the Deaf. New York: Academic Press.
De Vos, C., 2012. Sign- spatiality in Kata Kolok: How a village sign language of Bali inscribes its signing space (PhD Thesis). Nijmegen: Radbound University.
Dirksen, B., 2008. Open your eyes: Deaf studies talking. Minnesota: University Press.
Ferandez, E.M., Cairns, H.S., 2011. Fundamentals of Psycholinguistics. West Sussex: Blackwell Publications.
Freeman, RD., Carbin, C.F., Boese, R.J., 1981. Can’t your child hear?: A guide for those who care about deaf children. Baltimore: University Park Press.
Geert, B., 2005. The grammar of words: An introduction to linguistic morphology. Oxford: OUP.
Goldin-Meadow, S., 2003. The resilience of language: What gesture creation in deaf children can tell us about how all children learn language. New York: Psychology Press.
Hauser, M.D., Fitch, W.T., 2003. What are the uniquely human components of the language faculty? In Christiansen, M.H., Kirby, S. (Eds). Language Evolution. The States of Art: OUP.
Hoemann, H.W., 1983. Communicating with deaf people. Baltimore: University Park Press.
King, R.G., 1979. Fundamentals of human communication. New York: Macmillan Pub. Co.
Klima, E.S., Bellugi, U., 1979. The signs of language. Cambridge: Havard University Press.
Maier, E., de Schepper, K., Zwets, M., 2013. The pragmatics of person and imperatives in sign language of the Netherlands. Res. Lang., 11(4), 359-376.
Mayberry, R.I., 2007. When timing is everything: Age of first language acquisition, effects on second language learning. Appl. Psycholinguist., 28, 537-549.
McAnnally, P.L., Rose, S., Quigley, S.P., 1994. Language learning practices with deaf children (3rd). www.amazon.com.
Meadow, K., 1977. Name signs and identity symbols in the deaf community: Sign language studies. Maryland: Fall.
Neidle, C., Lee, R.G., 2005. The syntactic organisation of American sign language: A Synopsis. Boston: ASLLRP.
Newell, W., Holcomb, S., Holcomb, B.R., Pocobello, D., Boardman, K., Arthur, L., 1989. Basic sign communication. Maryland: National Association of the Deaf.
Newport, E.L., Supalla, T., 2000. Sign language research at the Millenium. In Emmorey, K., Lane, H. (Eds). The signs of language revisited: An Anthology to Honour Ursula Bellugi and Edward Klima. London: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
Nonaka, A.M., 2004. The forgotten endangered languages: Lessons on the importance of remembering from Thailand’s Ban Khor sign language. Lang. Soc., 33(5), 737-768.
Novogrodsky, R., Fish, S., Hoffmeister, R., 2015. Semantic and phonological knowledge of native signers of American sign language (ASL) in a synonym task. Boston: Boston University Center for the Study of Communication and the Deaf.
Sandler, W., Lillo-Martin, D., 2001. Natural sign languages. In Aronoff, M., Rees-Miller, J. (eds). Handbook of Linguistics. MA: Blackwell Publishers.
Schmalz, K., Walter, G., 1980. Introduction to communication. New York: NTID.
Stokoe, W., Casterline, D., Croneberg, C., 1976. A dictionary of American sign language on linguistic principles. Maryland: Linstok Press.
Stokoe, W.C(Jnr), 2005. Sign language structure: An outline of the visual communication systems of the American deaf. J. Deaf Stud. Deaf Educ., 10(1), 1-35.
Zucchi, S., 2012. Formal semantics of sign languages. Language and Linguistics Compass, 6(11), 719-734.
How to Cite
Copyright (c) 2020 Patrick Sibanda
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.