The Influence of the Visual Modality on Language Structure and Conventionalization: Insights From Sign Language and Gesture

Article English OPEN
Perniss, P. ; Ozyurek, A. ; Morgan, G. (2015)

For humans, the ability to communicate and use language is instantiated not only in the vocal modality but also in the visual modality. The main examples of this are sign languages and (co-speech) gestures. Sign languages, the natural languages of Deaf communities, use systematic and conventionalized movements of the hands, face, and body for linguistic expression. Co-speech gestures, though non-linguistic, are produced in tight semantic and temporal integration with speech and constitute an integral part of language together with speech. The articles in this issue explore and document how gestures and sign languages are similar or different and how communicative expression in the visual modality can change from being gestural to grammatical in nature through processes of conventionalization. As such, this issue contributes to our understanding of how the visual modality shapes language and the emergence of linguistic structure in newly developing systems. Studying the relationship between signs and gestures provides a new window onto the human ability to recruit multiple levels of representation (e.g., categorical, gradient, iconic, abstract) in the service of using or creating conventionalized communicative systems.
  • References (9)

    Barsalou, L. W., Simmons, K., Barbey, A. K., & Wilson, C. D. (2003). Grounding conceptual knowledge in modality-specific systems. Trends in Cognitive Science 7(2), 84-91.

    Brentari, D. (2010) (Ed.). Sign Languages. Cambridge Language Surveys. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    Brentari, D., Coppola, M., Mazzoni, L., & Goldin-Meadow, S. (2012). When does a system become phonological? Handshape production in gesturers, signers, and homesigners. Natural Language and Linguistic Theory 30(1), 1-31.

    Emmorey, K. (1999). Do signers gesture? In L. Messing & R. Campbell (Eds.), Gesture, speech, and sign. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

    Emmorey, K. (2002). Language, cognition, and the brain: Insights from sign language research. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum and Associates.

    Emmorey, K. (2007). The psycholinguistics of signed and spoken languages: How biology affects processing. In G. Gaskell (Ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Psycholinguistics, pp. 703-721. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

    Goldin-Meadow, S. (2003). The resilience of language: What gesture creation in deaf children can tell us about how all children learn language. Psychology Press.

    Goldin-Meadow, S., McNeill, D., & Singleton, J. (1996). Silence is liberating: Removing the handcuffs on grammatical expression in the manual modality. Psychological Review 103, 34-55.

    Goldin-Meadow, S., So, W.-C., Özyürek, A., & Mylander, C. (2008). The natural order of

  • Metrics
    No metrics available
Share - Bookmark