Edited by Diane Brentari and Ronnie B. Wilbur
[Sign Language & Linguistics 15:1] 2012
► pp. 147–174
Complexity in two-handed signs in Kenyan Sign Language
Evidence for sublexical structure in a young sign language
This paper investigates whether two-handed signs in Kenyan Sign Language, a relatively young school-based sign language, conform to the same constraints on combinations of movement and handshape that hold in other sign languages. An analysis of 467 two-handed signs, separated into four types based on complexity, found that KSL is highly constrained, with only a few signs that violate proposed conditions. Three hypotheses to account for handshape restrictions on the non-dominant hand in highly complex signs are tested. Findings show that a universal unmarked set accounts for most of these handshapes; a language-specific unmarked set does no better; and a constraint on markedness at the featural level essentially accounts for all the signs. Further analyses discover that a preference for unmarked handshapes in the most complex signs extends to all two-handed signs to some degree. Finally, a phonotactic preference for the G/1 handshape on the dominant hand in complex signs is uncovered. Some evidence suggests that this tendency may surface in other languages as well.
Cited by other publications
This list is based on CrossRef data as of 06 january 2020. Please note that it may not be complete. Sources presented here have been supplied by the respective publishers. Any errors therein should be reported to them.