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By Debra AArons

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Sometimes a very tiny change in facial expression can make the difference in an ASL grammaticality judgment. In terms of data collection, it is essential to have the informant sign the item s/he is being asked to give a judgment on, so that it is clear that both the researcher and the informant are referring to the identical utterance, and so that the informant actually produces the utterance, rather than giving a judgment on what might be an approximation. It may also be useful to have the informant sign correct alternatives if s/he finds the original sentence ungrammatical.

Of course, native ASL informants who have a fine command of English and of ASL, and who view ASL as the language they are most comfortable with, not inferior to English, are extremely valuable informants. In this case, the effects of interference from English on their judgments of ASL (ideally) can be minimized. 3 Many deaf people use a form of signing called PSE (Pidgin Signed English). Essentially, this consists of using ASL signs in an English-like word order. This form of communication was actively encouraged in some schools for the deaf.

Some perturbation in the prosody can be shown by patterns of pausing in such sentences, as compared to sentences without topicalization. , when it is clear from the context which NP is the subject and which the object. She claims, furthermore, that the word order in subordinate 9 The early claim made by both Fischer and Liddell separately seems to deal with cases of (object) movement, which show disturbances in neutral word order, rather than with sentences that have items base-generated in topic position; topic marking borne by the latter would obviously provide no information at all about neutral word order in the sentence.

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Aspects of the Syntax of American Sign Language by Debra AArons


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