This paper discusses R-impersonals in Hong Kong Sign Language (HKSL). As evidenced in our questionnaire and
conversation data, R-impersonals in HKSL typically make use of null forms, the non-specific indefinite determiner (i.e.,
onedet-path (someone)/onedet-path (anyone)), distinguished by non-manual markers),
and, occasionally, the Chinese character sign human/person. HKSL does not show impersonal uses of personal pronouns
(e.g., they, you) which are commonly found in spoken languages. The nominal strategies are determined by the
contexts and the referential properties of the impersonal referents, and they differ in the use of space in representing the
impersonal referents in subsequent discourse. R-impersonal referents encoded by onedet-path
(someone)/onedet-path (anyone) are associated with an area of the upper part of the ipsilateral side
of the signing space, but they can still be assigned to a specific locus if the subsequent discourse requires locative
information. Impersonal referents introduced by null forms or the Chinese character sign human/person are typically not
This volume. R-impersonals in sign languages: Introduction & Questionnaire.
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2015Getting (more) impersonal in LSE (Lengua de signos española). Talk at
Workshop on Impersonals and Passive in Sign Languages
, February 2015, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona.
Kelepir, Meltem, Asli Özkul & Elvan Tamyürek Özparlak
This volume. Agent-backgrounding in Turkish Sign Language.
This volume. Impersonal reference in Russian Sign Language.
Siewierska, Anna & Maria Papastathi
2011Towards a typology of third person plural impersonals. Linguistics 49(3). 575–610.
2003Word order of Hong Kong Sign Language. In Anne Baker, Beppie van den Bogaerde & Onno Crasborn (eds.), Cross-linguistic perspectives in sign language research. Selected papers from TISLR 2000, 163–192. Hamburg: Signum.
Tang, Gladys & Felix Sze
2002Nominal expressions in Hong Kong Sign Language: does modality make a difference? In Richard Meier, Kearsy Cormier & David Quinto-Pozos (eds.), Modality and structure in signed and spoken language, 296–319. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Rissman, Lilia, Laura Horton, Molly Flaherty, Ann Senghas, Marie Coppola, Diane Brentari & Susan Goldin-Meadow
2020. The communicative importance of agent-backgrounding: Evidence from homesign and Nicaraguan Sign Language. Cognition 203 ► pp. 104332 ff.
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Any errors therein should be reported to them.