The role of the mouth in Sign Language of the Netherlands: lexical contrasts, grammatical functions and sociolinguistic variation
08 / 2009 - onbekend
In Sign Languages, the hands are the main articulators. However, several other parts of the body can be used for conveying meaning, among them the mouth. In NGT (Nederlandse GebarenTaal, Sign Language of the Netherlands), several types of mouth movements are found. One important type is the so-called mouthing, a soundless pronunciation of a Dutch word, accompanying a manual sign. These mouthed words are typically Dutch translations of the NGT-sign and often seem redundant, but they can be used to disambiguate, complement or specify the manual part. In this research I will look at several aspects of mouthings, such as their lexical specification (are they always required? Is it a form of code-mixing with Dutch?), their grammatical functions (what are the (im)possible syntactic combinations? What does the timing of mouthings tell us about the prosodic structure of NGT?) and sociolinguistic variation (do older signers differ in their use of mouthings compared with younger signers?) I will try to answer these questions using the Corpus NGT, which contains some 92 hours video of (semi-)spontaneous signing by 100 signers. This research will bring together two fields of linguistics I studied at the University of Amsterdam: sign linguistics and phonetics.