Tid: Torsdag 19 november 2014, kl. 15:00 – 17:00
Plats: C307, Södra huset, Frescati

Föreläsningen hålls på engelska och teckenspråkstolkar finns.
Postseminarium följer direkt efter seminariet i institutionens pentry.


In this talk I will present some recent research into Finnish Sign Language (FinSL) syntax. After a brief introduction to some historical, theoretical and methodological issues and to the basics of simple sentences in FinSL, the talk first discusses the phenomenon of ellipsis in FinSL clauses. Ellipsis is defined as the optional non-expression of a lexeme or a phrase in a syntactic configuration (McShane 2005). In the talk, ellipsis is shown to be a very frequent phenomenon in FinSL, affecting both verbal and nominal elements in the clause. Since the elided elements also tend to be thematic ones, and since the ellipsis can be seen as a means of supporting the overall discourse structure, FinSL is argued to be a highly discourse-oriented language. The second main topic that I will look at, building on the research into ellipsis, is clausal coordination. Clausal coordination is the process that links together two (or more) clauses of the same rank (Haspelmath 2007). In the talk, the three main types of coordination - conjunctive ('and'), adversative ('but'), and disjunctive ('or') coordination - are first introduced for FinSL, together with their basic typological features (most importantly from the perspective of syndesis). After this I will go on to discuss, with the help of recent computer-vision and motion capture technology, the prosody of coordinated clauses in FinSL. Finally, some sign language-specific characteristics of clausal coordination are presented (e.g. simultaneous coordination). On the one hand, these characteristics are shown to result from the fact that signers can use two manual articulators in the production of sentences. On the other hand, it is suggested that the properties are caused by the pervasive iconicity of sign language structure.

Haspelmath, Martin (2007). Coordination. In Timothy Shopen (Ed.), Language typol- ogy and syntactic description: Complex constructions. Volume 2, 1–51. Second edition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

McShane, Marjorie J. (2005). Theory of ellipsis. Cary, NC (USA): Oxford University Press.

Johanna Mesch