Order of the major constituents in sign languages: Implications for all language

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Abstract

A survey of reports of sign order from 42 sign languages leads to a handful of generalizations. Two accounts emerge, one amodal and the other modal. We argue that universal pressures are at work with respect to some generalizations, but that pressure from the visual modality is at work with respect to others. Together, these pressures conspire to make all sign languages order their major constituents SOV or SVO. This study leads us to the conclusion that the order of S with regard to verb phrase (VP) may be driven by sensorimotor system concerns that feed universal grammar. © 2014 Napoli and Sutton-Spence.

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Napoli, D. J., & Sutton-Spence, R. (2014). Order of the major constituents in sign languages: Implications for all language. Frontiers in Psychology, 5(MAY). https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2014.00376

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