The Distribution Of The Determiner Phrase : American Sign Language And How It Fits Within Proposed X Bar Structures

1454 WordsMay 8, 20176 Pages
1. INTRODUCTION. This paper examines the distribution of the determiner phrase in American Sign Language and how it fits within proposed x-bar structures. Notable work on this topic has specifically looked to differentiate between two types of determiners: prenominal (those occurring before the noun) and postnominal (those occurring after the noun) (MacLaughlin, p.8) MacLaughlin provides a discussion of prenominal indexes that provides clear examples of this patterning while also giving an account of non-manual and manual agreement features of these determiners and their nouns. While I will discuss how this description serves as an improvement compared to previous literature my primary argument will focus on her claims made on the nature…show more content…
3). These indexed items can be used before or after the lexical noun and are expressed using the index finger to point to some location in the signing space that is to represent the given noun (Bahan et al., 1995, p.3). In gloss, indexes are typically written as IX-1 (MacLaughlin, 1997, p.). 2.2 PREVIOUS RESEARCH ON ASL DPs. Early examinations of these elements have led to conflicting conclusions. De Vreiendt and Rasquinet (1989) claimed in their work that because ASL does not have explicit correlates to English determiners such as "a" and "the", there is nothing in the language that could be classified as a determiner (p.250). This view of ASL refutes the classification of indexes as determiners. However, this view is contradicted in most other research presented on the topic (Bahan et al., 1995, p.2). One example of this is Zimmer and Patschke (1990) which investigated the use of indexed signs through the questioning of ASL informants (p. 352). In their work, they concluded that indexed signs do indeed act as determiners (Zimmer & Patschke, 1990, p. 353). This claim was substantiated by the fact that the ASL users noted that the indexed signs were used to ‘specify’ the lexical noun (Zimmer & Patschke, 1990, p.351). Their secondary claim though, was that there does not seem to be a way for there to be a definitely marked determiner (Zimmer & Patschke, 1990, p. 352). In other words, they felt that

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