1932

Abstract

Sign language anaphora is often realized very differently from its spoken language counterpart. In simple cases, an antecedent is associated with a position or “locus” in signing space, and an anaphoric link is obtained by pointing toward that locus to recover its semantic value. This mechanism may sometimes be an overt realization of coindexation in formal syntax and semantics. I discuss two kinds of insights that sign language research can bring to the foundations of anaphora. First, in some cases the overt nature of indices in sign language allows one to bring overt evidence to bear on classic debates in semantics. I consider two: the availability of situation-denoting variables in natural language and the availability of binding without c-command. Second, in some cases sign language pronouns raise new challenges for formal semantics. Loci may function simultaneously as formal variables and as simplified depictions of what they denote, requiring the construction of a formal semantics with iconicity to analyze their properties.

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2017-01-14
2024-04-23
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