Volume 21, Issue 2
  • ISSN 1387-9316
  • E-ISSN: 1569-996X
Buy:$35.00 + Taxes



The present paper offers a first systematic approach to the expression of impersonal human reference in French Sign Language (LSF). It extends and deepens a prior study carried out by the authors on the basis of a large scale discourse corpus. The description proposed here is based primarily on data elicited through a specialised questionnaire on impersonal human reference (Barberà & Cabredo Hofherr, this volume), initially developed for spoken languages and adapted for sign languages. The strategies revealed are compared with those discussed in our prior study. We begin with a brief review of the literature on impersonal human reference in spoken and sign languages, and a presentation of our theoretical framework for the analysis of LSF. We then elaborate on our methodology and the issues raised by the elicitation protocol adopted, from initial stages of its preparation to the representation of our data. We finally present and discuss the main strategies we highlighted for the expression of impersonal reference in LSF.


Article metrics loading...

Loading full text...

Full text loading...


  1. Barberà, Gemma
    2012The meaning of space in Catalan Sign Language (LSC). Reference, specificity and structure in signed discourse. Barcelona: Universitat Pompeu FabraPhD dissertation.
    [Google Scholar]
  2. Barberà, Gemma & Patricia Cabredo Hofherr
    2016 Une stratégie de mise en arrière-plan de l’agent en Langue de Signes Catalane – passif ou impersonnel?L’information grammaticale149. 55–60.
    [Google Scholar]
  3. eds. This volume. R-impersonal strategies in sign languages: Introduction & questionnaire.
    [Google Scholar]
  4. 2017 Agent-backgrounding in Catalan Sign Language (LSC) – passives, middles or impersonals?Language93. 767–798. 10.1353/lan.2017.0057
    https://doi.org/10.1353/lan.2017.0057 [Google Scholar]
  5. Barberà, Gemma & Josep Quer
    2013 Impersonal reference in Catalan Sign Language (LSC). In Laurence Meurant , Aurélie Sinte , Mieke Van Herreweghe & Myriam Vermeerbergen (eds.), Sign language research, uses and practices: Crossing views on theoretical and applied sign language linguistics, 237–258. Berlin & Nijmegen: de Gruyter Mouton & Ishara Press. 10.1515/9781614511472.237
    https://doi.org/10.1515/9781614511472.237 [Google Scholar]
  6. Brentari, Diane & Carol A. Padden
    2001 Native and foreign vocabulary in American Sign Language: A lexicon with multiple origins. In Diane Brentari (ed.), Foreign vocabulary: A cross-linguistic investigation of word formation, 87–119. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum. 10.4324/9781410601513
    https://doi.org/10.4324/9781410601513 [Google Scholar]
  7. Cabredo Hofherr, Patricia
    2003 Arbitrary readings of third person pronominals. In Matthias Weisgerber (ed.), Proceedings of the Conference SuB7 – Sinn und Bedeutung, Vol.114, 81–94. Konstanz: Konstanz University, FB Linguistik.
    [Google Scholar]
  8. 2006 ‘Arbitrary’ pro and the theory of pro-drop. In Peter Ackema , Patrick Brandt , Maaike Schoorlemmer & Fred Weerman (eds.), Agreement and arguments, 230–258. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  9. 2008 Les pronoms impersonnels humains – syntaxe et interpretation. Modèles linguistiquesXXIX-1(57). 35–56.
    [Google Scholar]
  10. Cormier, Kearsy A. , Sandra Smith & Zed Sevcikova-Sehyr
    2015 Rethinking constructed action. Sign Language & Linguistics18(2). 167–204. 10.1075/sll.18.2.01cor
    https://doi.org/10.1075/sll.18.2.01cor [Google Scholar]
  11. Costello, Brendan
    2015How do you/we/they get impersonal in Spanish Sign Language (LSE)?A first look. Paper presented at the Workshop on sign languages and R-impersonal pronouns . 6 February 2018, Paris.
    [Google Scholar]
  12. Creissels, Denis
    2015 R-impersonals in Atlantic and Mande languages. Paper presented at the Workshop on R-impersonal pronouns . 4 February 2015, Paris.
    [Google Scholar]
  13. . To appear. Impersonal pronouns and coreference: the case of French on . Unpublished ms. www.deniscreissels.fr/public/Creissels-ON.pdf
  14. Creissels, Denis , Sokhna Bao-Diop , Alain-Christian Bassène , Mame-Thierno Bassène , Alexander Cobbinah ,
    2015 L’impersonnalité dans les langues de la région sénégambienne. Africana Linguistica21. 29–86. 10.3406/aflin.2015.1043
    https://doi.org/10.3406/aflin.2015.1043 [Google Scholar]
  15. Cuxac, Christian
    1996Fonctions et structures de l’iconicité des langues des signes. Paris: University Paris V doctoral dissertation.
    [Google Scholar]
  16. 2000La langue des signes française. Les voies de l’iconicité. Faits de langue vol.15–16. Paris: Ophrys.
    [Google Scholar]
  17. Cuxac, Christian & Elena Antinoro Pizzuto
    2010 Emergence, norme et variation dans les langues des signes: vers une redéfinition notionnelle. Langage et Société131. 37–53. 10.3917/ls.131.0037
    https://doi.org/10.3917/ls.131.0037 [Google Scholar]
  18. Cuxac, Christian , Annelies Braffort , Annick Choisier , Christophe Collet , Patrice Dalle , Ivani Fusellier , Gwenaëlle Jirou , Fanch Lejeune , Boris Lenseigne , Nathalie Monteillard , Annie Risler & Marie-Anne Sallandre
    2002Corpus LS-Colin sur plusieurs genres discursifs. Programme Cognitique 2000, Langage et Cognition, Université Paris 8, IRIT, LIMSI-CNRS, Université Paris Sorbonne. corpusdelaparole.huma-num.fr/spip.php?article30&ldf_id=oai:crdo.vjf.cnrs.fr:crdo-FSL-CUC020_SOUND
    [Google Scholar]
  19. Cuxac, Christian & Marie-Anne Sallandre
    2007 Iconicity and arbitrariness in French Sign Language: Highly iconic structures, degenerated iconicity and diagrammatic iconicity. In Elena Pizzuto , Paola Pietrandrea & Raffaele Simone (eds.), Verbal and signed languages: Comparing structures, constructs and methodologies, 13–33. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.
    [Google Scholar]
  20. Emmorey, Karen
    (ed.) 2003Perspectives on classifier constructions in sign languages. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum. 10.4324/9781410607447
    https://doi.org/10.4324/9781410607447 [Google Scholar]
  21. Fonseca-Greber, Bonnie & Linda R. Waugh
    2003 On the radical difference between the subject personal pronouns in written and spoken European French. In Pepi Leistyna & Charles F. Meyer (eds.), Corpus analysis: Language structure and language use, 225–240. Amsterdam & New York: Rodopi. 10.1163/9789004334410_013
    https://doi.org/10.1163/9789004334410_013 [Google Scholar]
  22. Garcia, Brigitte
    2016 Scripturisation, grammatisation et modélisation linguistique à la lumière du cas des langues des signes. Dossiers d’HEL, SHESL, Écriture(s) et représentations du langage et des langues9. 238–253.
    [Google Scholar]
  23. Garcia, Brigitte , Marie-Thérèse L’Huillier & Coralie Vincent
    2016Corpus Creagest, dialogues en LSF d’adultes sourds. Projet ANR. https://www.ortolang.fr/market/corpora/ortolang-000926
    [Google Scholar]
  24. Garcia, Brigitte & Marie-Anne Sallandre
    2014 Reference resolution in French Sign Language (LSF). In Patricia Cabredo Hofherr & Anne Zribi-Hertz (eds.), Crosslinguistic studies on noun phrase structure and reference, 316–364. Leiden: Brill. 10.1163/9789004261440_012
    https://doi.org/10.1163/9789004261440_012 [Google Scholar]
  25. Gast, Volkert , & Johan van der Auwera
    2013 Towards a distributional typology of human impersonal pronouns, based on data from European languages. In Dik Bakker & Martin Haspelmath (eds.), Languages across boundaries. Studies in memory of Anna Siewierska, 31–56. Berlin: De Gruyter Mouton. 10.1515/9783110331127.119
    https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110331127.119 [Google Scholar]
  26. Giacalone Ramat, Anna & Andrea Sansò
    2007 The spread and decline of indefinite man-constructions in European languages. An areal perspective. In Paolo Ramat & Elisa Roma (eds.), Europe and the Mediterranean as linguistic areas. Convergences from a historical and typological perspective, 95–131. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
    [Google Scholar]
  27. Haspelmath, Martin
    1997Indefinite pronouns. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  28. Johnston, Trevor
    2012 Lexical frequency in sign languages. Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education17(2). 163–193. 10.1093/deafed/enr036
    https://doi.org/10.1093/deafed/enr036 [Google Scholar]
  29. Kelepir, Meltem , Aslı Özkul & Elvan Tamyürek Özparlak
    . This volume. Agent-backgrounding in Turkish Sign Language.
    [Google Scholar]
  30. Kimmelman, Vadim
    2015R-impersonals in Sign Language of the Netherlands (NGT). Paper presented at the Workshop on sign languages and R-impersonal pronouns . 6 February 2015, Paris.
    [Google Scholar]
  31. . This volume. Impersonal reference in Russian Sign Language.
    [Google Scholar]
  32. Liddell, Scott K.
    2003Grammar, gesture, and meaning in American Sign Language. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 10.1017/CBO9780511615054
    https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511615054 [Google Scholar]
  33. L’Huillier, Marie-Thérèse , Marie-Anne Sallandre & Brigitte Garcia
    2016Impersonal reference to human agents in French Sign Language (LSF). Poster presented at the Theoretical Issues in Sign Language Research Conference 12. 6 January 2016, La Trobe University, Melbourne, Australia.
    [Google Scholar]
  34. Malchukov, Andrej & Akio Ogawa
    2011 Towards a typology of impersonal constructions: A semantic map approach. In Andrej Malchukov & Anna Siewierska (eds.), Impersonal constructions: a cross-linguistic perspective, 19–56. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. 10.1075/slcs.124.02mal
    https://doi.org/10.1075/slcs.124.02mal [Google Scholar]
  35. Millet, Agnès
    1997 Réflexions sur le statut du mouvement en LSF – aspects lexicaux et syntaxiques. LIDIL15. 11–30.
    [Google Scholar]
  36. Sallandre, Marie-Anne
    2003Les unités du discours en Langue des Signes Française. Tentative de catégorisation dans le cadre d’une grammaire de l’iconicité. Paris: Université Paris 8PhD dissertation.
    [Google Scholar]
  37. Sallandre, Marie-Anne , Brigitte Garcia
    2013 Epistemological issues in the semiological model for the annotation of sign language. In Laurence Meurant , Aurélie Sinte , Mieke Van Herreweghe and Myriam Vermeerbergen (eds.), Sign Language research, uses and practices. Crossing views on theoretical and applied sign language linguistics, 159–177. Berlin/New York: Mouton de Gruyter. 10.1515/9781614511472.159
    https://doi.org/10.1515/9781614511472.159 [Google Scholar]
  38. Sallandre, Marie-Anne , Alessio Di Renzo & Robert Gavrilescu
    2016Various types of personal transfers (constructed actions) in seven sign languages. Poster presented at the Theoretical Issues in Sign Language Research Conference 12. 4 January 2016, La Trobe University, Melbourne, Australia.
    [Google Scholar]
  39. Siewierska, Anna
    2008 Ways of impersonalizing: pronominal vs. verbal strategies. In Angeles Gómez González , J. Lachlan Mackenzie & Elsa M. González Álvarez (eds.), Current trends in contrastive linguistics, 3–26. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. 10.1075/sfsl.60.03sie
    https://doi.org/10.1075/sfsl.60.03sie [Google Scholar]
  40. 2011 Overlap and complementarity in reference impersonals: Man-constructions vs. third person plural impersonals in the languages of Europe. In Andrej Malchukov & Anna Siewierska (eds.), Impersonal constructions: A crosslinguistic perspective, 57–90. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. 10.1075/slcs.124.03sie
    https://doi.org/10.1075/slcs.124.03sie [Google Scholar]
  41. Siewierska, Anna & Maria Papastathi
    2011 Third person plurals in the languages of Europe: Typological and methodological issues. Linguistics43(2). 575–610.
    [Google Scholar]

Data & Media loading...

This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was successful
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error