Typology and channel of communication
Many sign languages have been described linguistically; however, such descriptions draw on grammatical traditions developed for the surrounding spoken languages. Although these languages are spoken all over the world, they all happen to be dependent marking, in terms of the typology developed by Johanna Nichols. It is argued here that sign languages are, by their nature, head marking, requiring a different type of grammatical analysis. This proposal is discussed with regard to (1) grammatical relations – agreement, case marking, and alignment; (2) framing – verb framed and satellite framed; (3) subject and topic prominence; and (4) reference tracking. Basic grammatical characteristics of sign languages stem from the manual/visual modality, which allows for the establishment of loci in space, movement, and simultaneous expression of meaning components on hands, body, and face.