Volume 13, Issue 2
  • ISSN 1387-9316
  • E-ISSN: 1569-996X
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This paper discusses the role of iconicity in sign language phonology by utilizing recently developed tools available in the areas of phonological contrast and feature distribution. In particular, we explain the degree to which iconic elements of handshape interact with the feature system of sign language handshapes in different components of the lexicon, by making specific reference to handshape features that specify joint position. We then discuss similarities and differences between signed languages and spoken languages and the implications for a theory of features that might adequately capture phenomena in both communication modalities. Although cross-linguistic data have been collected and analyzed in this regard, we focus on data from American Sign Language in this work.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): ASL; contrast; features; iconicity; Optimality Theory; phonology; sign language
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