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Nominal Modification in Italian Sign Language

Since the recent creation of a large-scale corpus of Italian Sign Language (LIS), a new research branch has been established to study the sociolinguistic variation characterizing this language in various linguistic domains. However, for nominal modification, the role of language-internal variation remains uncertain. This volume represents the first attempt to investigate sign order variability in this domain, examining what shapes the syntactic structure of LIS nominal expressions. In particular, three empirical studies are presented and discussed: the first two are corpus studies investigating the distribution and duration of nominal modifiers, while the third deals with the syntactic behavior of cardinal numerals, an unexplored area.

In this enterprise, three different theoretical dimensions of inquiry are innovatively combined: linguistic typology, generative linguistics, and sociolinguistics. The research setup involves both quantitative and qualitative data. This mixed approach starts from corpus data to present the phenomenon, examine linguistic facts on a large scale, and draw questions from these, and then looks at elicited and judgment-based data to provide valid insights and refine the analysis. Crucially, the combination of different methods contributes to a better understanding of the mechanisms driving nominal modification in LIS and its internal variation.

Author Information

Lara Mantovan, Ca’ Foscari University, Italy.
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Audience: Linguists; Sociolinguists