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ERIC Number: EJ935239
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2011
Pages: 34
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 42
ISSN: ISSN-0302-1475
Toward a Phonetic Representation of Signs, I: Sequentiality and Contrast
Johnson, Robert E.; Liddell, Scott K.
Sign Language Studies, v11 n2 p241-274 Win 2011
In this paper we examine the theory of the structure of signs that grew from Stokoe's (1965) proposals. We begin by examining argument for the structural simultaneity of signs by examining claims about how signs contrast and how cheremes function. Historically, such discussions have involved three claims: (1) that signs are composed of a single handshape, a single location, and a sequence of movements, and (2) that these structural aspects account for contrast between signs in the same way that phonemes account for contrast in spoken languages, and (3) that this is evidence of dual patterning. Using a number of different examples, we evaluate these claims from the perspective of the standard definitions of contrast and duality of pattern, showing that discussions drawn from this reasoning are not consistent with standard notions of the phoneme or of double articulation and duality of pattern. We suggest that, if signed languages in fact are structured in the way Stokoe proposed--an approach maintained even in recent work (Meir et al. 2007, 537-39)--then the phoneme and notions of duality of pattern must be redefined for signed languages. We demonstrate, however, that the putative simultaneity proposed by this model does not adequately represent actual observations about the structure of signing and conclude that a model with inherent sequentiality of segments provides a more precise description of signs. We evaluate several such models, finding each to be inadequate, and end with the claim that an adequate descriptive system for signed languages will employ sequential segments. Such a system would be consistent with notions of contrast and duality of pattern developed for other languages. (Contains 6 figures and 14 notes.)
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A