Universal Grammar and American Sign Language

Universal Grammar and American Sign Language : Setting the Null Argument Parameters

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AMERICAN SIGN LANGUAGE American Sign Language (ASL) is the visual-gestural language used by most of the deaf community in the United States and parts of Canada. On the surface, this language (as all signed languages) seems radically different from the spoken languages which have been used to formulate theories of linguistic princi- ples and parameters. However, the position taken in this book is that when the surface effects of modality are stripped away, ASL will be seen to follow many of the patterns proposed as universals for human language. If these theoretical constructs are meant to hold for language in general, then they should hold for natural human language in any modality; and ifASL is such a natural human language, then it too must be accounted for by any adequate theory of Universal Grammar. For this rea- son, the study of ASL can be vital for proposed theories of Universal Grammar. Recent work in several theoretical frameworks of syntax as well as phonology have argued that indeed, ASL is such a lan- guage. I will assume then, that principles of Universal Gram- mar, and principles that derive from it, are applicable to ASL, and in fact that ASL can serve as one of the languages which test Universal Grammar. There is an important distinction to be drawn, however, be- tween what is called here 'American Sign Language', and other forms of manual communication.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 245 pages
  • 152.4 x 226.06 x 17.78mm | 317.51g
  • Dordrecht, Netherlands
  • English
  • Softcover reprint of the original 1st ed. 1991
  • XVI, 245 p.
  • 0792314204
  • 9780792314202

Table of contents

1. Universal Grammar and American Sign Language.- 1. Introduction.- 1.1 Rationale.- 1.2 Syntax.- 1.3 Acquisition.- 1.4 Summary.- 2. The Theoretical Framework: Government and Binding.- 2.1 General Directions.- 2.2 Principles and Sub-Theories.- 2.2.1 Government Theory.- 2.2.2 Theta-Theory (and the Projection Principle).- 2.2.3 Binding Theory.- 2.3 Empty Categories.- 2.3.1 The Syntactic Reality of Empty Categories.- 2.3.2 Typology of Empty Categories.- 2.3.3 Restrictions on Empty Categories.- 3. The Structure of American Sign Language.- 3.1 Nominal Establishment.- 3.2 Verb Agreement.- 3.3 Is Agreement in ASL Inflection or Cliticization?.- 3.3.1 Morphological Characteristics of Cliticization vs. Inflection.- 3.3.2 Syntactic Distinctions between Inflection and Cliticization.- 3.4 Extraction in ASL.- 4. Language Acquisition.- 4.1 Learnability.- 4.2 The Acquisition of ASL.- 4.2.1 Early Acquisition.- 4.2.2 Modality Effects.- Notes.- 2. Null Arguments in American Sign Language.- 1. Introduction.- 2. Null Pronominal Arguments of Agreeing Verbs.- 2.1 Overview.- 2.2 pro as a Locus-Assigning Pronoun.- 2.3 pro as a Resumptive Pronoun.- 2.4 pro as a Crossover-Evading Resumptive Pronoun.- 2.5 pro as a Binding Condition B Pronoun.- 2.6 Pro-Drop Properties.- 3. Some Previous Analyses of Null Pronouns.- 3.1 Null Subjects as [ + anaphor]: Rizzi (1982).- 3.1.1 Proper Government vs. Identifiability.- 3.1.2 The Separation of Null Subjects and Inversion Effects.- 3.2 Null Subjects as [ + pronominal]: Chomsky (1981, 1982).- 3.3 Null Pronominal Objects: Rizzi (1986).- 4. The Null Pronoun Parameters.- 4.1 Licensing and Identification.- 4.2 The Structure of Licensing Heads.- 4.3 The Place of Morphological Agreement in the Null Pronoun Parameters.- 5. The Occurrence of Null Arguments with Non-Agreeing Verbs.- 5.1 Huang's Account of Chinese Null Arguments.- 5.2 A Null Topic Account of ASL Null Arguments of Plain Verbs.- 5.3 `Genuine' Null Object Pronouns.- 6. Questions for Huang's Account of Chinese.- 6.1 Alternative Accounts of Chinese and Japanese.- 6.1.1 Different Dialects.- 6.1.2 Embedded Topics.- 6.1.3 Null Epithets.- 6.2 Jaeggli and Safir (1989).- 7. A Cross-Linguistic Survey of Null Arguments.- 7.1 Languages with Null Pronominal Subjects Identified by Verb Agreement.- 7.2 Languages with Null Pronominal Non-Subject Arguments Identified by Verb Agreement.- 7.3 Languages with Topic-Identified Null Arguments.- 7.4 Languages with Object pro Not Identified by AGR.- 7.5 Languages with Null Expletives Only.- 8. Setting the Null Argument Parameters.- 8.1 Synopsis of Null Argument Parameters and Language Typology.- 8.2 Null Arguments in ASL.- 8.3 The Learnability of Null Arguments.- Notes.- 3. Acquiring the Correct Settings on the Null Argument Parameters.- 1. Introduction.- 2. The Acquisition of Null Argument Structures in ASL: Production.- 2.1 Subjects.- 2.2 Methodology.- 2.3 Results.- 2.4 Discussion.- 3. The Acquisition of Null Pronoun Structures in ASL: Imitation.- 3.1 Subjects.- 3.2 Methodology.- 3.3 Results.- 3.3.1 Pronoun Deletions.- 3.3.2 Pronoun (NP) Additions.- 3.4 Discussion.- 4. Effects of the Acquisition of Morphology on Syntactic Parameter Setting.- 4.1 The Acquisition of ASL Verb Agreement Morphology.- 4.2 Verb Agreement and Parameter Setting.- 4.3 Factors Contributing to the Acquisition of Morphology.- 4.4 Cross-Linguistic Predictions.- 5. The Acquisition of Null and Overt Arguments in Spoken Languages.- 5.1 Introduction.- 5.2 Null Arguments in Early English.- 5.3 The Acquisition of Null Arguments in Japanese and Chinese.- 5.4 The Acquisition of Null Arguments in Other Languages.- 5.5 What are the Initial Settings of the Null Argument Parameters?.- 6. Performance Accounts of Children's Null Subjects.- 6.1 Three Performance-Based Accounts of Early Null Subjects.- 6.2 Possible Evidence Against a Performance-Based Account of Early Null Subjects.- 7. Conclusion.- Notes.- 4. Summary, Suggestions, and Conclusions.- 1. Summary of Results.- 1.1 Chapter Two.- 1.2 Chapter Three.- 2. Suggestions for an Analysis of the Initial Settings.- 3. A Model of Language and Mind.- 3.1 Parameters.- 3.2 Modularity.- 3.3 Conclusion.- Notes.- Appendix 1: Subjects Involved in Production and Imitation Studies.- Appendix 2: Imitation Task Stimuli.- References.- Index of Names.- Index of Subjects.
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