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      The organization of verb meaning in Lengua de Señas Nicaragüense (LSN): Sequential or simultaneous structures?

      1 , 1 , 2 , 3 , 4
      Glossa: a journal of general linguistics
      Open Library of the Humanities

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          Abstract

          One structural dimension that varies across languages is the simultaneous or sequential expression of meaning. Complex predicates can layer meanings together simultaneously in a single-verb predicate (SVP) or distribute them sequentially in a multiple-verb predicate (MVP). We ask whether typological variability in this dimension might be a consequence of systematic patterns of diachronic change. We examine the distribution of markers of agency and number within the verb phrase (the predicate) in the earliest stages of a young, emerging sign language in Nicaragua, Lengua de Señas Nicaragüense (LSN), beginning with homesign systems like those from which LSN originated, and progressing through two decades of transmission to new learners. We find that: (i) LSN2 signers are more likely to produce MVPs than homesigners or LSN1 signers; (ii) in the MVPs they do produce, homesigners and LSN1 signers are more likely to produce predicates that mark both agency and number simultaneously on at least one of the verbs; LSN2 signers are just as likely to produce sequences with verbs that mark agency and number in sequentially separate verbs. We discuss how language acquisition, modality, and structure, as well as specific social factors associated with each of the groups, play a role in driving these changes, and how, over time, these patterns of change might yield the diversity of forms observed across spoken and signed languages today.

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          Fitting Linear Mixed-Effects Models Usinglme4

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            Children creating core properties of language: evidence from an emerging sign language in Nicaragua.

            A new sign language has been created by deaf Nicaraguans over the past 25 years, providing an opportunity to observe the inception of universal hallmarks of language. We found that in their initial creation of the language, children analyzed complex events into basic elements and sequenced these elements into hierarchically structured expressions according to principles not observed in gestures accompanying speech in the surrounding language. Successive cohorts of learners extended this procedure, transforming Nicaraguan signing from its early gestural form into a linguistic system. We propose that this early segmentation and recombination reflect mechanisms with which children learn, and thereby perpetuate, language. Thus, children naturally possess learning abilities capable of giving language its fundamental structure.
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              The Social Motivation of a Sound Change

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                Author and article information

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                Journal
                Glossa: a journal of general linguistics
                Open Library of the Humanities
                2397-1835
                January 7 2024
                February 9 2024
                : 9
                : 1
                Affiliations
                [1 ]University of Chicago
                [2 ]University of Wisconsin-Madison
                [3 ]Barnard College, Columbia University
                [4 ]University of Connecticut
                Article
                10.16995/glossa.10342
                b7a66718-5af5-4919-a2e1-a36606d347b8
                © 2024

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

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