Volume 12, Issue 3
  • ISSN 1568-1475
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9773
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Sign languages make use of the two hands, facial features, the head, and the body to produce multifaceted gestures that are dedicated for linguistic functions. In a newly emerging sign language — Al-Sayyid Bedouin Sign Language — the appearance of dedicated gestures in signers of four age groups or strata reveals that recruitment of gesture for language is a gradual process. Starting with only the hands in Stratum I, each additional articulator is recruited to perform grammatical functions as the language matures, resulting in ever increasing grammatical complexity. The emergence of dedicated gesture in a new language provides a novel context for addressing questions about the relationship between the physical transmission system and grammar and about the emergence of linguistic complexity in human language generally.


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