Since Battison (1978), it has been noted in many signed languages that the Symmetry Condition constrains the form of two-handed signs in which two hands move independently. The Condition states that the form features (e.g., the handshapes and movements) of the two hands are ‘symmetrical’. The Symmetry Condition has been regarded in the literature as a part of signed language phonology. In this study, we examine the linguistic status of the Symmetry Condition by comparing the degree of symmetry in signs from Sign Language of the Netherlands and speech-accompanying representational gestures produced by Dutch speakers. Like signed language, such gestures use hand movements to express concepts, but they do not constitute a linguistic system in their own right. We found that the Symmetry Condition holds equally well for signs and spontaneous gestures. This indicates that this condition is a general cognitive constraint, rather than a constraint specific to language. We suggest that the Symmetry Condition is a manifestation of the mind having one active ‘mental articulator’ when expressing a concept with hand movements.
1981Why phonology isn’t “natural”. Linguistic Inquiry 121. 493–539.
1978Lexical borrowing in American Sign Language. Silver Spring, MD: Linstok Press.
Blees, Marja, Onno Crasborn, Harry van der Hulst & Els van der Kooij
1996SignPhon: A database tool for phonological analysis of sign languages.
Manual, version 0.1. Manuscript, Leiden University.
De Ruiter, Jan Peter
1998The production of gesture and speech. PhD dissertation, University of Nijmegen.
1993Space in Danish Sign Language. The semantics and morphosyntax of the use of space in a visual language. Hamburg: Signum Verlag.
Gijn, Ingeborg van
1997Vormkarakteristieken van gestures en gebaren [Form characteristics of gestures and signs]. MA thesis, Leiden University.
Hulst, Harry van der
1993Units in the analysis of signs. Phonology 101. 209–241.
Hulst, Harry van der
1996On the other hand. Lingua 981. 121–144.
1972Some relationships between body motion and speech. In Aron Siegman & Benjamin Pope (eds.), Studies in dyadic communication, 177–210. New York: Pergamon Press.
1988aSign languages of Aboriginal Australia. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
1988bHow gesture can become like words. In Fernando Poyatos (ed.), Cross-cultural perspectives in nonverbal communication, 131–141. Toronto: Hogrefe.
1993Language and thought: A study of spontaneous gestures and Japanese mimetics. PhD dissertation, University of Chicago.
Kita, Sotaro, Ingeborg van Gijn & Harry van der Hulst
1998Movement phases in signs and co-speech gestures, and their transcription by human coders. In Ipke Wachsmuth & Martin Fröhlich (eds.), Gesture and sign language in human-computer interaction, International Gesture Workshop Bielefeld, Germany, September 17-19, 1997, Proceedings (Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence Vol. 13171), 23–35. Berlin: Springer.
Krauss, Robert M., Yihsiu Chen & Purnima Chawala
1996Nonverbal behavior and nonverbal communication: What do conversational hand gestures tell us? In Mark Zanna (ed.), Advances in Experimental Social Psychology, 389–450. San Diego, CA: Academic Press.
1979Natural constraints in sign language phonology: Data from anatomy. Sign Language Studies 241. 215–229.
1985So you think gestures are nonverbal?Psychological Review 921. 350–371.
1992Hand and mind: What gestures reveal about thought. Chicago: Chicago University Press.
Prillwitz, Siegmund, Regina Leven, Heiko Zienert, Thomas Hanke & Jan Henning
1989HamNoSys. Hamburg notation system for sign languages: An introductory guide. Version 2.0. Hamburg: Signum.
1979The conduit metaphor – a case of frame conflict in our language about language. In Andrew Ortony (ed.), Metaphor and thought, 284–324. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
1989Phonological representation of the sign: Linearity and nonlinearity in ASL phonology. Dordrecht: Foris.
1993Hand in hand: The roles of the nondominant hand in sign language phonology. The Linguistic Review 101. 337–390.
Sutton-Spence, Rachel & Bencie Woll
1999The linguistics of British Sign Language: An introduction. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Cited by 6 other publications
2019. Sign Language Phonology,
Cooperrider, Kensy, Dedre Gentner & Susan Goldin-Meadow
2016. Spatial analogies pervade complex relational reasoning: Evidence from spontaneous gestures. Cognitive Research: Principles and Implications 1:1
This list is based on CrossRef data as of 29 may 2023. 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.