Tid: Fredag 27 januari 2017, kl. 10:00–12:00
Plats: C397, Södra huset, Frescati

Skuggopponent är Tommi Jantunen, docent vid University of Jyväskylä i Finland.

In this dissertation, I investigate the strategies employed in the visual modality to explicitly mark syntactic objects, in order to distinguish the different syntactic functions of the arguments of a clause. The main focus is on Swedish Sign Language (SSL), with some excursions of cross-linguistic comparisons.

The first three studies involve verbal strategies of object marking. The Study I looks at the use of object handshapes and directionality as object markers in elicited parallel data from three sign languages: Al-Sayyid Bedouin Sign Language (ABSL); Israeli Sign Language; and Swedish Sign Language (SSL). The handshape strategy is used across all languages, but directionality shows limited use in ABSL. Both strategies correlate with word order preferences and animacy. Studies II and III look at the formal distinctions made between transitive and reflexive constructions in SSL: first through an elicitation task with four Deaf signers; second through an acceptability task using an online questionnaire. Here it is found that handling handshapes are preferred for both transitive and reflexive constructions, but also that instrument handshapes are better for patient perspective than for agent perspective constructions. This is explained using an Optimality Theory account.

The last two studies concern nominal strategies of object marking. Study IV gives a detailed description of the form and function of an object pronoun in SSL, which is the first description of its kind, and only the second for any sign language. Finally, Study V is a cross-linguistic investigation of 24 different sign languages, exploring the possible existence of object pronouns. Here, it is found that the Nordic sign languages exhibit similarities in their use of object pronouns, all having a pronoun with identical form and similar functions, which is derived from the sign PERSON. The grammaticalization of PERSON into different object markers in various sign languages is explored in more depth.

Hjärtligt välkomna!

Maria Koptjevskaja-Tamm