A Prosodic Model of Sign Language Phonology


This book is intended in part to provide linguists and cognitive scientists who do not know sign language with a point of entry into the study of sign language phonology. At the same time, it presents a comprehensive theory of American Sign Language (ASL) phonology, while reviewing and building on alternative theories. One claim of this theoretical framework is that, because of sign language's visual/gestural phonetic basis, the consonant-like units and vowel-like units are expressed simultaneously with one another, rather than sequentially as in spoken languages. A second claim is that movements operate as the most basic prosodic units of the language. The author is concerned to show both the similarities and differences between signed and spoken languages, and to indicate some directions for future work in cognitive science that can be derived from her phonological model.

Table of Contents

  1. Preface
  2. Notational Conventions and Abbreviations
  3. 1. Goals of the Model
  4. 2. The Use of Constraint-Based Frameworks and Prosodic Units in Analyses of Sign Languages
  5. 3. Inherent Features
  6. 4. Prosodic Features
  7. 5. Timing Units
  8. 6. Complexity, Sonority, and Weight in ASL Syllables
  9. 7. The Structure of Two-Handed Signs
  10. 8. Contributions of Sign Language Phonology to Phonological Theory and Cognitive Science
  11. A. Appendix A. The Letters of the ASL Manual Alphabet Labeled [Flexed] or Nonflexed
  12. B. Appendix B. Verb Forms That Do and Do Not Allow the [Delayed Completive] Aspect
  13. C. Appendix C. Forms That Undergo Reduplicative Nominalization
  14. D. Appendix D. Descriptive Categories of Two-Handed Signs According to Their Ability to Undergo Weak Drop
  15. Notes
  16. References
  17. Index of Illustrated Signs
  18. General Index