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      Coarticulation of Handshape in Sign Language of the Netherlands: A Corpus Study

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          This article investigates the articulation of the thumb in flat handshapes (B handshapes) in Sign Language of the Netherlands. On the basis of phonological models of handshape, the hypothesis was generated that the thumb state is variable and will undergo coarticulatory influences of neighboring signs. This hypothesis was tested by investigating thumb articulation in signs with B handshapes that occur frequently in the Corpus NGT. Manual transcriptions were made of the thumb state in two dimensions and of the spreading of the fingers in a total of 728 tokens of 14 sign types, and likewise for the signs on the left and right of these targets, as produced by 61 signers. Linear mixed-effects regression (LME4) analyses showed a significant prediction of the thumb state in the target sign based on the thumb state in the preceding as well as following neighboring sign. Moreover, the degree of spreading of the other fingers in the target sign also influenced the position of the thumb. We conclude that there is evidence for phonological models of handshapes in sign languages that argue that not all fingers are relevant in all signs. Phonological feature specifications can single out specific fingers as the articulators, leaving other fingers unspecified. We thus argue that the standard term ‘handshape’ is in fact a misnomer, as it is typically not the shape of the whole hand that is specified in the lexicon.

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          Most cited references 10

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          lme4: Linear mixed-effects models using S4 classes

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            Underspecification in Phonetics

            It is often assumed in work on the phonological underspecification of segments that while representations may at first be underspecified, they end up fully specified. Various kinds of rules are posited to ensure that in output forms all features have values for all segments. In this paper I will consider an alternative view: that underspecification may persist into phonetic representations. I begin by reviewing some of the relevant phonological phenomena and mechanisms, and some of the history of underspecification in phonetic studies. I then show how phonetic data may be taken to reflect the presence or absence of feature values in surface forms. Finally, the extent to which surface specification depends on segmental contrasts is examined. The aim of this paper is to present some phonetic phenomena that are potentially relevant to any theory of underspecification.
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              Perception of long-distance coarticulation: An event-related potential and behavioral study


                Author and article information

                Laboratory Phonology
                Ubiquity Press
                28 April 2017
                : 8
                : 1
                Centre for Language Studies, Radboud University, Nijmegen, NL
                Windesheim University of Applied Sciences, Zwolle, NL
                Copyright: © 2017 The Author(s)

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC-BY 4.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. See

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