Mara Moita | Center of Interdisciplinary Research on Health (CIIS), Health Sciences Institute, Catholic University of Portugal, Lisbon | Centro de Linguística da Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Faculdade Ciências Sociais e Humanas, Universidade Nova de Lisboa
Sara Carvalho | Center of Interdisciplinary Research on Health (CIIS), Health Sciences Institute, Catholic University of Portugal, Lisbon
Ahmed Zaky | Marquês de Valle Flôr Institute, Lisbon
In Sao Tome and Principe there are approximately five thousand deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals. Until recently, these people had no language to use among them other than basic home signs used only to communicate with their families. With this communication gap in mind, a project was set up to help them come together in a common space in order to create a dedicated environment for a common sign language to emerge.
In less than two years, the first cohort began to sign and to develop a newly emerging sign language – the Sao Tome and Principe Sign Language (LGSTP). Signs were elicited by means of drawings and pictures and recorded from the beginning of the project. The emergent structures of signs in this new language were compared with those reported for other emergent sign languages such as the Al-Sayyid Bedouin Sign Language and the Lengua de Señas de Nicaragua, and several similarities were found at the first stage.
In this preliminary study on the emergence of LGSTP, it was observed that, in its first stage, signs are mostly iconic and exhibit a greater involvement of the articulators and a larger signing space when compared with subsequent stages of LGSTP emergence and with other sign languages. Although holistic signs are the prevalent structure, compounding seems to be emerging. At this stage of emergence, OSV seems to be the predominant syntactic structure of LGSTP. Yet the data suggest that new signers exhibit difficulties in syntactic constructions with two arguments.
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