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      Focus and Intensification in the Semantics of Brow Raise

      1 , 2
      Glossa: a journal of general linguistics
      Open Library of the Humanities

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          Abstract

          We argue that in American Sign Language (ASL), Brow Raise has two sorts of functions that can be distinguished by timing: it may serve well-known information-theoretic functions that can, among others, realize focus; but it may also intensify gradable constructions – a far less well-known observation. While Brow Raise on an expression can fulfill both functions, Brow Raise right before an expression preferentially has an information-theoretic function. The main findings are replicated on some examples from LSF (French Sign Language). Strikingly, these two functions mirror those found for 'stress' (= emphasis) by Bergen 2016, who argued for a unified analysis of information-theoretic effects and of intensificational effects. We sketch a unified analysis within Alternative Semantics, and discuss a further possibility within a simplified version of Bergen's own theory of 'noise-reduction' (Bergen 2016). An extension of our ASL data shows that related generalizations hold when Brow Raise is applied to a highly iconic construction (here involving a helicopter path): depending on timing, Brow Raise may serve to evoke alternatives or to intensify part of the construction.

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          Pragmatic Language Interpretation as Probabilistic Inference

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            Structurally-defined alternatives

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              A prosodic model of sign language phonology

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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Glossa: a journal of general linguistics
                Open Library of the Humanities
                2397-1835
                January 4 2021
                October 22 2021
                : 6
                : 1
                Affiliations
                [1 ]glossa
                [2 ]n/a
                Article
                10.16995/glossa.5706
                6eac391e-7029-45c2-878d-c7e8d41c93aa
                © 2021

                https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0

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                Self URI (article page): https://www.glossa-journal.org/article/id/5706/

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