Department of Linguistics
Information structure insights from sign language anaphora
Notions of topic and focus have been well-studied in sign languages, which – like many spoken languages – tend to have word orders highly influenced by information structural considerations, along with perhaps some modality-specific considerations provided by suprasegmental nonmanuals, the tight integration of iconic gestures into the grammatical structure, etc. The use of signing space/”loci” for anaphora is often considered to be another modality-specific feature, bearing on questions about semantic analyses of anaphora generally and how anaphoricity relates to other notions like definiteness, givenness, and contrast. This talk will provide both experimental and theoretical arguments for how the use of sign language anaphora relates to information structure in sign languages and, by extension, some existing questions in spoken languages regarding the relationship between anaphoricity and information structure.
Lunch with the speaker will follow the seminar in the Linguistics Department Library, 3401 Walnut Street, Room 301C.