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Natural Language & Linguistic Theory

, Volume 20, Issue 2, pp 413–450 | Cite as

A Cross-Modality Perspective On Verb Agreement

  • Irit Meir
Article

Abstract

Verb agreement in sign languages (illustrated here by Israeli Sign Language, ISL) seems to differ greatly from that of spoken languages, as it seems to be thematically oriented and is realized morphologically only on a subset of verbs in the language. These properties present both typological and theoretical challenges, since agreement is generally regarded as a structural relation, realized morphologically as inflectional affixes on the verbal element. These challenges are addressed here by applying aparticular componential analysis (along the lines of Jackendoff 1990) to the class of verbs which inflect for agreement in ISL. This analysis enables us to capture and explain the similarities as well as differences between the agreement systems of signed and spoken languages. It argues that agreement is basically a structural relation in languages in both modalities. The unique properties of sign language verb agreement are attributed to the difference in the agreeing element: verbs and auxiliaries in spoken languages vs. a spatial predicate in sign languages. These conclusions have some significant theoretical implications, both for capturingaspects of the interaction between modality and the structure of language, andfor imposing restrictions on the structure of the lexicon.

Keywords

Artificial Intelligence Unique Property Structural Relation Sign Language Theoretical Implication 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Irit Meir
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Hebrew Language and the Laboratory for Sign Language, Linguistics and Cognition Research TheUniversity of Haifa Mount CarmelHaifaIsrael

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