Across sign languages, topic constructions are marked by nonmanual features such as a brow raise and head tilt. This study investigates whether a topic constituent is marked nonmanually in Hong Kong Sign Language. Spontaneous and elicited data show that the majority of ‘scene-setting’ topics, which provide a temporal, spatial or individual framework for the proposition in the sentence, are accompanied with a brow raise and a specific head/body position different from the rest of the sentence. In contrast, ‘aboutness’ topics that represent what a sentence is about are neither marked by nonmanuals consistently nor separated intonationally from the rest of the sentence. Grammatical objects fronted to the sentence-initial position are not marked nonmanually, either. The findings suggest that there are cross-linguistic differences with respect to the functions of nonmanuals in the information structuring of sign languages.
2015. Topics and topic prominence in two sign languages. Journal of Pragmatics 87 ► pp. 156 ff.
2021. The expression of contrast in Catalan Sign Language (LSC). Glossa: a journal of general linguistics 6:1
2015. Is Hong Kong Sign Language a topic-prominent language?. Linguistics 53:4
2022. From gestures to grammatical non-manuals in sign language: A case study of polar questions and negation in Hong Kong Sign Language. Lingua 267 ► pp. 103188 ff.
2019. Linguistic Interference in Interpreting from English to South African Sign Language. In English in Multilingual South Africa, ► pp. 371 ff.
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