Volume 21, Issue 2
  • ISSN 1387-9316
  • E-ISSN: 1569-996X
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In this paper, we examine agent backgrounding in Italian Sign Language (LIS). Specifically, we are interested in identifying and describing the strategies used by LIS signers to reduce referentiality. On the basis of low-referential contexts (cf. questionnaire in the Introduction chapter), we recorded target sentences containing potential markers of agent backgrounding and asked three LIS native signers to provide felicity judgments on them using a 7-point scale. We discuss agent-backgrounding strategies of different types: (i) manual, (ii) non-manual, and (iii) syntactic. Overall, our study shows that the combination of raised eyebrows and mouth-corners down associated with the existential quantifier and the sign makes the agent-backgrounding reading more prominent. Other strategies that can be used in LIS to reduce referentiality are free relatives, perspective shift, and null subject. We also investigate in more detail the semantic status of , , and the null subject through well-established tests from the literature.


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