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Cognitive Linguistics

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Volume 30, Issue 1


Pointing and placing: Nominal grounding in Argentine Sign Language

Rocío Martínez
  • Instituto de Lingüística, Universidad de Buenos Aires and Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas, Buenos Aires, Argentina
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/ Sherman Wilcox
Published Online: 2018-11-28 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/cog-2018-0010


Grounding refers to expressions that establish a connection between the ground and the content evoked by a nominal or finite clause. In this paper we report on two grammatical implementations of nominal grounding in Argentine Sign Language: pointing and placing. For pointing constructions, we also examine distal-proximal pointing and directive force. We introduce the concept of placing, in which a sign is produced at a specific meaningful location in space. Two types of placing are discussed: Placing-for-Creating, in which a new meaningful location is created, and Placing-by-Recruiting, which recruits an existing meaningful location. We suggest that our analysis of pointing and placing provides an account of nominal grounding unified by general cognitive principles as described within the theory of Cognitive Grammar. Pointing is known to occur in all signed languages studied to date. Although previously undocumented, we suggest that placing is also common to many, perhaps all, signed languages.

Keywords: sign language; nominal grounding; pointing; placing; reference point


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About the article

Received: 2018-01-25

Accepted: 2018-07-27

Revised: 2018-07-26

Published Online: 2018-11-28

Published in Print: 2019-02-25

Citation Information: Cognitive Linguistics, Volume 30, Issue 1, Pages 85–121, ISSN (Online) 1613-3641, ISSN (Print) 0936-5907, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/cog-2018-0010.

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