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ERIC Number: EJ1001489
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2012
Pages: 19
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 90
ISSN: ISSN-0302-1475
Observations on Word Order in Saudi Arabian Sign Language
Sprenger, Kristen; Mathur, Gaurav
Sign Language Studies, v13 n1 p122-140 Fall 2012
This article focuses on the syntactic level of the grammar of Saudi Arabian Sign Language by exploring some word orders that occur in personal narratives in the language. Word order is one of the main ways in which languages indicate the main syntactic roles of subjects, verbs, and objects; others are verbal agreement and nominal case morphology. Focusing on word order specifically, Carnie (2007, 23) gives examples of the variety of word orders that are attested in spoken languages: (1) subject verb object (SVO) (e.g., English); (2) subject object verb (SOV) (e.g., Turkish); (3) verb subject object (VSO) (e.g., Irish); and (4) verb object subject (VOS) (e.g., Malagasy). Almost no languages use the object subject verb (OSV) or object verb subject (OVS) orders. Adding data about word order in signed languages to the information we already have on spoken languages is key in developing a comprehensive theory of all human languages. Universal Grammar must account for phenomena that occur in sign languages as much as those found in spoken languages. Determining the basic word order of a language provides a good starting point for delving more deeply into its grammar, or, as Mithun says, "[Word order is often used as] a basis from which to predict other structural features" (1992, 51). Considering that most sign language research has been done on American Sign Language (ASL) and the sign languages of European countries (Zeshan 2004, 8), adding the grammar of Saudi Arabian Sign Language (SASL), a sign language of the Middle East, will further clarify the syntactic possibilities for human language. Yet another important rationale for the study of word order in SASL is that almost no aspect of the language--including word order--has been documented or studied in depth. This study serves as a beginning step in the more detailed analysis of word order (and syntax more generally) in SASL. We begin with an overview of word order in sign languages. Then we describe the methodology specific to this study and give some examples and analyses of selected data on word order. We close by discussing whether and to what extent this language is similar to other sign languages that have been studied more thoroughly. (Contains 1 figure and 1 note.)
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Saudi Arabia