Classifier constructions are universal to sign languages and exhibit unique properties that arise from the nature of the visual-gestural modality. The major goals are to bring to light critical issues related to the study of classifier constructions and to present state-of-the-art linguistic and psycholinguistic analyses of these constructions. It is hoped that by doing so, more researchers will be inspired to investigate the nature of classifier constructions across signed languages and further explore the unique aspects of these forms.
The papers in this volume discuss the following issues:
*how sign language classifiers differ from spoken languages;
*cross-linguistic variation in sign language classifier systems;
*the role of gesture;
*the nature of morpho-syntactic and phonological constraints on classifier constructions;
*the grammaticization process for these forms; and
*the acquisition of classifier forms.
Divided into four parts, groups of papers focus on a particular set of issues, and commentary papers end each section.
"Kudos go to Karen Emmorey for organizing the workshop on this timely topic and for collecting 15 of the papers into the present volume. Readers will find these chapters of interest not just because they contain an interesting array of approaches to the analysis of classifier constructions, but also because they present data from a variety of signed languages…. She [Emmorey] and her authors have succeeded admirably, giving us a breakthrough volume that provides insightful new perspectives on classifiers, their role in discourse, their acquisition by children, and the status of their mental representation."
—Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education
Contents: Preface. Part I: The Syntax and Morphology of Classifiers in Sign Languages. A. Schembri, Rethinking "Classifiers" in Signed Languages. B. Bergman, L. Wallin, Noun and Verbal Classifiers in Swedish Sign Language. M. Aronoff, I. Meir, C. Padden, W. Sandler, Classifier Constructions and Morphology in Two Sign Languages. A.Y. Aikhenvald, Commentary: Classifiers in Spoken and in Signed Languages: How to Know More. C. Grinevald, Classifier Systems in the Context of a Typology of Nominal Classification. Part II: Cross-Linguistic Variations in Classifier Constructions and Spatial Language. U. Zeshan, "Classificatory" Constructions in Indo-Pakistani Sign Language: Grammaticalization and Lexicalization Processes. G. Tang, Verbs of Motion and Location in Hong Kong Sign Language: Conflation and Lexicalization. L. Talmy, Commentary: The Representation of Spatial Structure in Spoken and Signed Language. Part III: Classifier Constructions and Gesture. S.K. Liddell, Sources of Meaning in ASL Classifier Predicates. K. Emmorey, M. Herzig, Categorical Versus Gradient Properties of Classifier Constructions in ASL. T. Supalla, Commentary: Revisiting Visual Analogy in ASL Classifier Predicates. S. Duncan, Gesture in Language: Issues for Sign Language Research. Part IV: The Acquisition of Classifier Constructions. D.I. Slobin, N. Hoiting, M. Kuntze, R. Lindert, A. Weinberg, J. Pyers, M. Anthony, Y. Biederman, H. Thumann, A Cognitive/Functional Perspective on the Acquisition of "Classifiers." G. Morgan, B. Woll, The Development of Reference Switching Encoded Through Body Classifiers in British Sign Language. E. Engberg-Pedersen, How Composite Is a Fall: Adults' and Children's Descriptions of Different Types of Falls in Danish Sign Language.