Volume 39, Issue 2
  • ISSN 0378-4169
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9927
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Sign languages make use of paired articulators (the two hands), hence manual signs may be either one- or two-handed. Although two-handedness has previously been regarded a purely formal feature, studies have argued morphologically two-handed forms are associated with some types of inflectional plurality. Moreover, recent studies across sign languages have demonstrated that even lexically two-handed signs share certain semantic properties. In this study, we investigate lexically plural concepts in ten different sign languages, distributed across five sign language families, and demonstrate that such concepts are preferentially represented with two-handed forms, across all the languages in our sample. We argue that this is because the signed modality with its paired articulators enables the languages to iconically represent conceptually plural meanings.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): articulatory plurality; iconicity; lexical plurality; sign language; two-handed signs
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