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Aspects of Türk İşaret Dili (Turkish Sign Language)

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This article provides a first overview of some striking grammatical structures in Türk İşaret Dili (Turkish Sign Language, TID), the sign language used by the Deaf community in Turkey. The data are described with a typological perspective in mind, focusing on aspects of TID grammar that are typologically unusual across sign languages. After giving an overview of the historical, sociolinguistic and educational background of TID and the language community using this sign language, five domains of TID grammar are investigated in detail. These include a movement derivation signalling completive aspect, three types of nonmanual negation — headshake, backward head tilt, and puffed cheeks — and their distribution, cliticization of the negator NOT to a preceding predicate host sign, an honorific whole-entity classifier used to refer to humans, and a question particle, its history and current status in the language. A final evaluation points out the significance of these data for sign language research and looks at perspectives for a deeper understanding of the language and its history.
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Keywords: Turkey; Turkish Sign Language; classifiers; clitics; history of sign language; language typology; nonmanual marking

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Research Centre for Linguistic Typology, La Trobe University, Melbourne & Max-Planck-Institute for Psycholinguistics, Nijmegen

Publication date: 2003-01-01

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