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The relationship between spontaneous gestures of the hearing and American Sign Language

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This paper presents evidence of non-manual gestures in American Sign Language (ASL). The types of gestures identified are identical to non-manual, spontaneous gestures used by hearing non-signers which suggests that the gestures co-occurring with ASL signs are borrowings from hearing culture. A comparison of direct quotes in ASL with spontaneous movements of hearing non-signers suggests a history of borrowing and eventual grammaticization in ASL of features previously thought to be unique to signed languages.

The electronic edition of this article includes audio-visial data.

Keywords: American Sign Language; deixis; direct quotes; gesture; head movements; intensifiers

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: California State University, Northridge

Publication date: 2001-06-01

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