Language Variation & Change

January 14, 2022 | 3:30PM

Join us for the first Language Variation and Change workshop this Friday January 14th, at 3:30pm on zoom (link will be provided Friday morning). Aurora Martinez del Rio will present work on part of her dissertation topic. Below you can find a title and abstract. 


“Repetition reduction across the lexicon in American Sign Language”



The repetition of an item in discourse has been shown cross linguistically and cross modally to correspond to reduction in the repeated form (Fowler & Housum 1987, Hoetjes et al. 2014). The present study examines how fingerspelled words and core lexical signs in American Sign Language (ASL) reduce as they are repeated, comparing patterns in reduction across these two parts of the ASL lexicon.  This analysis, which forms part of a wider investigation into reduction patterns in ASL, tests whether the structural and articulatory differences between fingerspelled words and lexical signs result in different patterns of reduction in the duration of these forms as they are repeated across mentions in discourse. Given the rapid, sequential articulation of handshapes involved in fingerspelling, we hypothesized that fingerspelled words would reduce to a greater degree and show continued reduction over more repeated mentions than lexical signs, which involve larger movements and fewer sequential segments. Contrary to this hypothesis, lexical signs and fingerspelled words exhibited strikingly similar patterns in duration reduction. This suggests that despite the differences between the two systems, their shared properties are enough to shape these similar patterns in reduction.