Time: Thursday, 26 January, 2017, at 15:00-17:00 (3-5 PM)
Location: C307

In this talk I will investigate the interplay of constructed action (a form of gestural enactment that signers combine with grammatical units to literally show the actions, thoughts or feelings of someone they are referring to in the discourse) and the clause in Finnish Sign Language (FinSL). With the help of frequencies calculated from corpus data, I will show, first, that when FinSL signers are narrating a story, there are differences in how they use constructed action. After this, I will argue that there are differences also in the prototypical structure, linkage type and nonmanual activity of clauses, depending on the presence or non-presence of constructed action. Finally, taking the view that gesture is an integral part of language, I will discuss the nature of syntax in sign languages and propose a conceptualization in which syntax is seen as a continuum of norms between a clausal and a gestural pole.

Maria Koptjevskaja-Tamm & Johanna Mesch