Publishing Partner: Cambridge University Press CUP Extra Publisher Login
amazon logo
More Info


New from Oxford University Press!

ad

Raciolinguistics

Edited by H. Samy Alim, John R. Rickford, and Arnetha F. Ball

Raciolinguistics "Brings together a critical mass of scholars to form a new field dedicated to theorizing and analyzing language and race together."


New from Cambridge University Press!

ad

Sociolinguistics from the Periphery

By Sari Pietikäinen, FinlandAlexandra Jaffe, Long BeachHelen Kelly-Holmes, and Nikolas Coupland

Sociolinguistics from the Periphery "presents a fascinating book about change: shifting political, economic and cultural conditions; ephemeral, sometimes even seasonal, multilingualism; and altered imaginaries for minority and indigenous languages and their users."


Academic Paper


Title: Body as subject
Author: Irit Meir
Institution: University of Haifa
Author: Carol A. Padden
Institution: University of California
Author: Mark Aronoff
Email: click here TO access email
Homepage: http://www.linguistics.stonybrook.edu/Users/maronoff/
Institution: Stony Brook University
Author: Wendy Sandler
Institution: University of Haifa
Linguistic Field: Morphology; Typology
Abstract: The notion of subject in human language has a privileged status relative to other arguments. This special status is manifested in the behavior of subjects at the morphological, syntactic, semantic and discourse levels. Here we present evidence that subjects have a privileged status at the lexical level as well, by analyzing lexicalization patterns of verbs in three different sign languages. Our analysis shows that the sub-lexical structure of iconic signs denoting states of affairs in these languages manifests an inherent pattern of form–meaning correspondence: the signer's body consistently represents one argument of the verb, the subject. The hands, moving in relation to the body, represent all other components of the event – including all other arguments. This analysis shows that sign languages provide novel evidence in support of the centrality of the notion of subject in human language. It also solves a typological puzzle about the apparent primacy of object in sign language verb agreement, a primacy not usually found in spoken languages, in which subject agreement generally ranks higher. Our analysis suggests that the subject argument is represented by the body and is part of the lexical structure of the verb. Because it is always inherently represented in the structure of the sign, the subject is more basic than the object, and tolerates the omission of agreement morphology.

CUP AT LINGUIST

This article appears IN Journal of Linguistics Vol. 43, Issue 3.

Return to TOC.

Add a new paper
Return to Academic Papers main page
Return to Directory of Linguists main page