Linguistics Colloquium: Kate Mesh

21/05/2019 - 14:00 - 15:30

Kate Mesh, Haifa University

Title: When Grammaticalization is Seen and Not Heard: The Case of Pointing in Sign Language and Beyond

Abstract: Sign languages provide a fascinating view of grammaticalization: the process of language change in which words or phrases take on new grammatical functions.  This is because many of the expressions that grammaticalize in signed languages are drawn from gestures used by hearing non-signers.

Pointing gestures are especially likely to be incorporated into the grammars of young, emerging sign languages: they are pervasive in everyday talk, crucial to face-to-face communication, and visually accessible to the deaf signers who create these languages.  In this talk, I discuss the grammaticalization of pointing in two young sign languages: Israeli Sign Language (Israel) and San Juan Quiahije Chatino Sign Language (Mexico).  I present studies investigating how signers of these languages use points to serve a set of increasingly abstract grammatical functions.  I close by asking whether pointing may be said to grammaticalize for speakers in some contexts, as well.


Place: Building 507 room 106


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