The syntax of nominal modification in Italian Sign Language (LIS)
In this paper, we investigate structural aspects of nominal modification in Italian Sign Language (LIS), a language with a relatively flexible word order. In order to tackle the issue, this study combines different approaches, including generalizations from typological universals on word order, their formal counterparts, and a variationist approach to language facts. Data come from the largest corpus of LIS currently available. Despite the absence of categorical rules, our mixed approach shows that LIS data are consistent with the general tenets of nominal modification. Results from the statistical analysis indicate that the attested language-internal variability is constrained both by linguistic and social factors. Specifically, a fine-grained structure of nominal modification is able to capture the internal variability of LIS. Processing effects, age, gender, and early exposure to the language also play a relevant role in determining order preferences.
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