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      Comparing sign language and gesture: Insights from pointing


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          How do the signs of sign language differ from the gestures that speakers produce when they talk? We address this question by focusing on pointing. Pointing signs play an important role in sign languages, with some types functioning like pronouns in spoken language (e.g., Sandler & Lillo-Martin 2006). Pointing gestures, in contrast, are not usually described in linguistic terms even though they play an important role in everyday communication. Researchers have focused on the similarities between pointing in signers and speakers (e.g., Cormier et al. 2013), but no studies to date have directly compared the two at a fine-grained level. In this paper, we compare the formational features of 574 pointing signs produced by British Sign Language signers (BSL Corpus) and 543 pointing gestures produced by American English speakers (Tavis Smiley Corpus) with respect to three characteristics typically associated with language systems: conventionalization, reduction, and integration. We find that, although pointing signs and pointing gestures both exhibit regularities of form, pointing signs are more consistent across uses, more reduced, and more integrated into prosodic structure than pointing gestures. Pointing is thus constrained differently when it is produced along with a signed language vs. when it is produced along with a spoken language; we discuss possible sources of these constraints.

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          Fitting Linear Mixed-Effects Models Using lme4

          Maximum likelihood or restricted maximum likelihood (REML) estimates of the parameters in linear mixed-effects models can be determined using the lmer function in the lme4 package for R. As for most model-fitting functions in R, the model is described in an lmer call by a formula, in this case including both fixed- and random-effects terms. The formula and data together determine a numerical representation of the model from which the profiled deviance or the profiled REML criterion can be evaluated as a function of some of the model parameters. The appropriate criterion is optimized, using one of the constrained optimization functions in R, to provide the parameter estimates. We describe the structure of the model, the steps in evaluating the profiled deviance or REML criterion, and the structure of classes or types that represents such a model. Sufficient detail is included to allow specialization of these structures by users who wish to write functions to fit specialized linear mixed models, such as models incorporating pedigrees or smoothing splines, that are not easily expressible in the formula language used by lmer. Journal of Statistical Software, 67 (1) ISSN:1548-7660
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            Type S error rates for classical and Bayesian single and multiple comparison procedures

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              The emergence of grammar: systematic structure in a new language.

              This report contains a linguistic description of a language created spontaneously without any apparent external influence in a stable existing community. We describe the syntactic structure of Al-Sayyid Bedouin Sign Language, a language that has arisen in the last 70 years in an isolated endogamous community with a high incidence of nonsyndromic, genetically recessive, profound prelingual neurosensory deafness. In the space of one generation from its inception, systematic grammatical structure has emerged in the language. Going beyond a conventionalized list of words for actions, objects, people, characteristics, and so on, a systematic way of marking the grammatical relations among those elements has appeared in the form of highly regular word order. These systematic structures cannot be attributed to influence from other languages, because the particular word orders that appear in Al-Sayyid Bedouin Sign Language differ from those found both in the ambient spoken languages in the community and in the other sign language found predominantly in the surrounding area. Therefore, the emerging grammatical structures should be regarded as an independent development within the language.

                Author and article information

                Glossa: a journal of general linguistics
                Ubiquity Press
                03 January 2019
                : 4
                : 1
                : 2
                [1 ]Languages and Intercultural Studies, Heriot-Watt University, GB
                [2 ]Department of Psychology, University of Chicago, US
                [3 ]Department of Linguistics, University of Chicago, US
                Copyright: © 2019 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 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.

                : 01 August 2017
                : 01 August 2018

                General linguistics,Linguistics & Semiotics
                sign language,integration,reduction,conventionalization,gesture,pointing


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