Areas of Study


Our three-year pilot study is inspired by a British Sign Language (BSL) corpus-based study on indicating verbs and uses of space.

Indicating verbs can be directed toward present individuals or spatial representations of individuals who are not present. These representations are generally viewed in signed-language linguistics to either be motivated by spatial relationships in the world or be purely arbitrary, lacking any spatial relationships whatsoever.

The BSL study found a strong preference for indicating verbs for motivated space, putting to question the actual role of arbitrary space in signed languages.

Our corpus-based study addresses a similar question on the preferences of ASL indicating verbs for the use of arbitrary space and motivated space, but it also considers five subtypes of motivated space (whereas the BSL study considers a single general type).

Video data will be annotated for linguistic features relevant to indicating verbs and the use of space, followed by:

  • statistical analysis revealing ASL indicating verb preferences; and
  • a Conversation Analysis task of indicating verb tokens pinpointing possible interactional influences over indicating verb usage.
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Motivated Look at Indicating Verbs in ASL (MoLo)

Felicia Williams

Kenneth De Haan



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