Clause constituents, arguments and the question of grammatical relations in Auslan (Australian Sign Language): a corpus-based study

Trevor Alexander Johnston*

*Corresponding author for this work

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    Abstract

    This study investigates clause constructions in Auslan. It looks at the alignment of constituent semantic role with constituent position and order in clauses, changes in the morphology of signs according to position and/or role, and the interpretation of omitted arguments. The aim is to determine if there are grammatical relations in Auslan. The most frequent constituent order parallels English, thus Auslan might be said to also instantiate a basic SVO word order. However, every possible constituent order pattern is also attested without there being other coding and behavioural properties associated with grammatical relations that could explain this flexibility. I conclude that constituent order in Auslan is the result of the interaction of pragmatic and semantic factors, visual representation, and language contact with English, rather than autochthonous grammatical relations. Auslan grammar draws on both so-called gestural and so-called linguistic resources at the clause level, not just at the word (sign) level.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)941-996
    Number of pages56
    JournalStudies in Language
    Volume43
    Issue number4
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Dec 2019

    Keywords

    • syntax
    • grammar
    • grammatical roles
    • grammatical relations
    • Auslan
    • sign language
    • corpus
    • syntacticization
    • gesture
    • semiotics

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