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Theoretical Linguistics

An Open Peer Review Journal

Editor-in-Chief: Krifka, Manfred

Ed. by Gärtner, Hans-Martin

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Volume 37, Issue 3-4


On the linguistic status of ‘agreement’ in sign languages

Diane Lillo-Martin / Richard P. Meier
Published Online: 2011-10-24 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/thli.2011.009


In signed languages, the arguments of verbs can be marked by a system of verbal modification that has been termed “agreement” (more neutrally, “directionality”). Fundamental issues regarding directionality remain unresolved and the phenomenon has characteristics that call into question its analysis as agreement. We conclude that directionality marks person in American Sign Language, and the ways person marking interacts with syntactic phenomena are largely analogous to morpho-syntactic properties of familiar agreement systems. Overall, signed languages provide a crucial test for how gestural and linguistic mechanisms can jointly contribute to the satisfaction of fundamental aspects of linguistic structure.

About the article

Correspondence address: University of Connecticut and Haskins Laboratories

Correspondence address: University of Texas at Austin

Published Online: 2011-10-24

Published in Print: 2011-10-01

Citation Information: Theoretical Linguistics, Volume 37, Issue 3-4, Pages 95–141, ISSN (Online) 1613-4060, ISSN (Print) 0301-4428, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/thli.2011.009.

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