Article published in:Impersonal human reference in Sign Languages
Edited by Gemma Barberà and Patricia Cabredo Hofherr
[Sign Language & Linguistics 21:2] 2018
► pp. 284–306
R-impersonals in Hong Kong Sign Language
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 spatially anchored.
Keywords: Hong Kong Sign Language, R-impersonals, indefinite determiners, null arguments
Published online: 22 March 2019
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