DGfS 2016 | 24.-26.2.2016

38. Jahrestagung der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Sprachwissenschaft

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AG 7: Sign language agreement revisited: new theoretical and experimental perspectives

Barbara Hänel-Faulhaber, Annika Herrmann, Christian Rathmann, Markus Steinbach

Website der AG 7: http://www.uni-goettingen.de/de/515385.html


Research in the last 30 years has shown that agreement in sign languages differs in interesting ways from agreement in spoken languages (Lillo-Martin/Meier 2011, Mathur/Rathmann 2012). In the literature, various phenomena such as verb agreement, classifier constructions, or role shift have been discussed under the notion ‘agreement’. On the one hand, agreement in sign language is subject to grammatical restrictions. On the other hand, its gestural basis and typological uniformity have questioned the grammatical status of agreement in sign language. In each sign language, we find, for instance, similar distinctions between verbs that are lexically specified as non-inflectional (plain verbs) and verbs that show inflection (agreement verbs). Likewise, the system of classifiers seems to be very similar across sign languages.
Recent experimental studies initiated a controversial debate about the grammatical status of agreement, modality-specific properties (use of space, body as subject) and the way agreement is processed in sign languages as opposed to spoken languages (Hänel-Faulhaber et al 2014). Recent corpus-based approaches suggest that agreement marking is not obligatory (de Beuzeville et al 2009). Concerning the origin of agreement, three phenomena are relevant: (i) Sign languages seem to have the unique property to grammaticalize gestural elements. (ii) Plain verbs may develop into agreement verbs over time. (iii) Some sign languages have developed specific agreement markers to fill the agreement gap with plain verbs (Pfau/Steinbach 2011).
This workshop will expand our understanding on agreement in sign and spoken languages through
different experimental, corpus-based, and theoretical approaches and addresses both well-established researchers
and young researchers. Topics to be discussed at the workshop include

  • Lexical, morphological, syntactic, and semantic properties of agreement in sign languages
  • Typological variation of agreement and agreement in standardized (‘old’) as well as young sign languages and ‘village sign languages’
  • The formal analysis of different phenomena related to sign language agreement
  • The grammatical status of agreement (phonological & animacy restrictions, verb type, optionality)
  • Grammaticalization of agreement at the interface between gesture and sign language
  • Modality-specific and modality-independent typological aspects
  • New insights from experimental and acquisitional studies on sign language agreement
  • Corpus-based analyses of agreement phenomena in sign languages
  • Agreement verbs, classifiers, and role shift in complex sentence constructions and discourse

de Beuzeville, L. et al. 2009. The use of space with indicating verbs in Australian Sign Language: A corpus-based investigation. Sign Language & Linguistics 12, 52-83; Hänel-Faulhaber, B. et al. 2014. ERP correlates of German Sign Language processing in deaf native signers. BMC Neuroscience 15, 1-11. Lillo-Martin, D./Meier, R.P. 2011. On the linguistic status of ‘agreement’ in sign languages. Theoretical Linguistics 37, 95-142; Pfau, R./Steinbach, M. 2011. Grammaticalization in sign languages. In: Heine, B./Narrog, H. (eds.), Handbook of grammaticalization, 681-693; Mathur, G./Rathmann, C. 2012. Verb
agreement. In. Pfau, R. et al. (eds.). Sign language, 136-157.


Mittwoch, 24. Februar 2016
14:30 – 15:00

Elena Benedicto:

Classifiers as agreement... or not?

15:00 - 15:30Adam Schembri:
Against the agreement analysis of 'classifier' morphemes in sign languages
15:30 - 16:00

Svetlana Dachkovsky:

The development of a RC marker from a deictic gesture in Israeli Sign Language

16:00 - 16:30Kaffepause
16:30 - 17:00Lynn Y-S Hou:
Pointing as seeds of directionality
17:00 - 17:30Kearsy Cormier:
Role shift is not agreement
17:30 - 18:30

Richard P. Meier:

Pointing to the analysis of personal pronouns and directional verbs in the acquisition and grammar of ASL

Donnerstag, 25. Februar 2016
9:00 – 9:30Irit Meir:
Explaining the special typological properties of Sign Language verb agreement
9:30 - 10:00Kearsy Cormier, Jordan Fenlon & Adam Schembri:
"Agreement" verbs in sign languages: Are we missing the point?
10:00 - 10:30

Carlo Geraci, Mirko Santoro, Lara Mantovan & Valentina Aristodemo, :

Backward agreement is not so backward after all: the role of loci in the grammar of SL

10:30 - 11:00

Guilherme Lourenço:

Regular and backward agreement verbs in Libras: a Case-based derivation

11:00 - 11:30


11:30 - 12:00

Antonio Balvet & Brigitte Garcia:

Agreement in Sign Languages, allow me to disagree

12:00 - 13:00

Josep Quer:

A place for locative agreement in sign languages

Freitag, 26. Februar 2016
11:30 – 12:00Julia Krebs, Dietmar Roehm & Ronnie Wilbur:
Two agreement markers in Austrian Sign Language (ÖGS)
12:00 - 12:30Matic Pavlič:
Verb-argument agreement and word order in SZJ ditransitives
12:30 - 13:00

Brendan Costello:

"Defective" agreeing verbs in LSE: an OT account

13:00 - 13:30

Jeremy Kuhn:

Dependency marking in American Sign Language

13:30 - 14:00

Roland Pfau & Martin Salzmann:

The order of Agree and Merge - evidence from sign language agreement