Expressing negation in Chinese Sign Language
This paper presents observations and analyses of the expression of negation in Chinese Sign Language (CSL), based on interviews with 15 Chinese Deaf adults in Beijing, China. Findings show that while some aspects of negation in CSL (e.g. nonmanual signals, negative signs, and structures of negative sentences) are similar to those found in other sign languages, CSL displays some unique features. One is a negative handshape, phonetically equivalent to the fingerspelled letter i in ASL. It also seems that a horizontal handwave and a side-to-side headshake have equivalent negative force, but the two cannot be used simultaneously. The structures of negative words and sentences show that CSL has a unique grammatical system that forces us to rethink some of our assumptions about sign language negation.
Keywords: nonmanual signals, sign language negation, negative handshapes, Chinese Sign Language, negation, syntax
Published online: 20 August 2003
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