Volume 19, Issue 1
  • ISSN 1387-9316
  • E-ISSN: 1569-996X
Buy:$35.00 + Taxes


This study explores whether American Sign Language (ASL) users exhibit frequency effects on two-sign combinations as observed in spoken languages. Studies on spoken languages have demonstrated that frequency of usage influences the emergence of grammatical constructions; however, there has been less investigation of this question for signed languages. To examine frequency effects in ASL, this study analyzes patterns of a grammatical manual negation morpheme glossed as NOT produced sequentially with other signs. Findings reveal that NOT is produced with specific signs, demonstrating that the grammaticalization of NOT increases as frequency does in ASL collocations. The analysis shows that a few signs are highly phonologically fused with the negation marker, providing emerging evidence that these collocations have experienced , as they are schematic, fused constituent structures in ASL. Given frequency effects found in the study, chunking appears to be a domain-general cognitive processing mechanism independent of modality effects.


Article metrics loading...

Loading full text...

Full text loading...


  1. Anderson, Diane & Judy Reilly
    1997 The puzzle of negation: How children move from communicative to grammatical negation in ASL. Applied Psycholinguistics18(4). 411–429. doi: 10.1017/S0142716400010912
    https://doi.org/10.1017/S0142716400010912 [Google Scholar]
  2. Aronoff, Mark , Irit Meir & Wendy Sandler
    2005 The paradox of sign language morphology. Language81. 301–344. doi: 10.1353/lan.2005.0043
    https://doi.org/10.1353/lan.2005.0043 [Google Scholar]
  3. Baker-Shenk, Charlotte & Dennis Cokely
    1980American Sign Language: A teacher’s resource text on grammar and culture. Washington, DC: Gallaudet University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  4. Battison, Robbin
    1974 Phonological deletion in American Sign Language. Sign Language Studies5. 1–19. doi: 10.1353/sls.1974.0005
    https://doi.org/10.1353/sls.1974.0005 [Google Scholar]
  5. Bell, Alan , Jason Brenier , Michelle Gregory , Cynthia Girand & Dan Jurafsky
    2009 Predictability effects on durations of content and function words in conversational English. Journal of Memory and Language60(1). 92–111. doi: 10.1016/j.jml.2008.06.003
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jml.2008.06.003 [Google Scholar]
  6. Bybee, Joan
    2001Phonology and language use. Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University Press. doi: 10.1017/CBO9780511612886
    https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511612886 [Google Scholar]
  7. Bybee, Joan & Paul Hopper
    2001Frequency and the emergence of linguistic structure. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. doi: 10.1075/tsl.45
    https://doi.org/10.1075/tsl.45 [Google Scholar]
  8. Carreiras, Manuel , Eva Gutiérrez-Sigut , Silvia Baquero & David Corina
    2008 Lexical processing in Spanish Sign Language (LSE). Journal of Memory and Language58. 100–122. doi: 10.1016/j.jml.2007.05.00
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jml.2007.05.00 [Google Scholar]
  9. Crasborn, Onno & Anne de Meijer
    2012 From corpus to lexicon: The creation of ID-glosses for the Corpus NGT. In Proceedings of the 5th Workshop on the Representation and Processing of Sign Languages: Interactions between Corpus and Lexicon . Istanbul, Turkey 2012.
    [Google Scholar]
  10. Croft, William
    2001Radical construction grammar: Syntactic theory in typological perspective. Oxford: Oxford University Press. doi: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198299554.001.0001
    https://doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198299554.001.0001 [Google Scholar]
  11. Emmorey, Karen
    2002Language, cognition, and the brain: Insights from sign language research. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
    [Google Scholar]
  12. Haspelmath, Martin
    2007 Pre-established categories don’t exist: Consequences for language description and typology. Linguistic Typology11. 119–132. doi: 10.1515/LINGTY.2007.011
    https://doi.org/10.1515/LINGTY.2007.011 [Google Scholar]
  13. Hopper, Paul
    1987 Emergent grammar. Berkeley Linguistics Society13. 139–157. doi: 10.3765/bls.v13i0.1834
    https://doi.org/10.3765/bls.v13i0.1834 [Google Scholar]
  14. 1991 On some principles of grammaticization. In Elizabeth Traugott & Bernd Heine (eds.), Approaches to grammaticalization1. 17–35. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. doi: 10.1075/tsl.19.1.04hop
    https://doi.org/10.1075/tsl.19.1.04hop [Google Scholar]
  15. Humphries, Tom , Carol Padden & Terrence J. O’Rourke
    1994A basic course in American Sign Language. Silver Spring, MD: T.J. Publishers.
    [Google Scholar]
  16. Janzen, Terry
    1995The polygrammaticalization of finish in ASL. Winnipeg, Manitoba: University of Manitoba MA thesis.
    [Google Scholar]
  17. Johnston, Trevor
    2012 Lexical frequency in sign languages. Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education17(2). 163–193. doi: 10.1093/deafed/enr036
    https://doi.org/10.1093/deafed/enr036 [Google Scholar]
  18. Keane, Jonathon , Diane Brentari & Jason Riggle
    2012 Coarticulation in ASL fingerspelling. In Proceedings of the North East Linguistic Society 42. North East Linguistic Society.
    [Google Scholar]
  19. Konrad, Reiner , Thomas Hanke , Susanne König , Gabriele Langer , Silke Matthes , Rie Nishio & Anja Regen
    2012 From form to function. A database approach to handle lexicon building and spotting token forms in sign languages. In Proceedings of the 5th Workshop on the Representation and Processing of Sign Languages: Interactions between Corpus and Lexicon , Language Resources and Evaluation Conference (LREC) Istanbul, May 2012, 87–94.
    [Google Scholar]
  20. Langacker, Ronald M
    1987Foundations of cognitive grammar: Theoretical prerequisites. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  21. Liddell, Scott K
    1980American Sign Language syntax. The Hague: Mouton.
    [Google Scholar]
  22. McKee, David & Graeme Kennedy
    2006 The distribution of signs in New Zealand Sign Language. Sign Language Studies6(4). 372–390. doi: 10.1353/sls.2006.0027
    https://doi.org/10.1353/sls.2006.0027 [Google Scholar]
  23. Morford, Jill P. & James MacFarlane
    2003 Frequency characteristics of American Sign Language. Sign Language Studies3(2). 213–225. doi: 10.1353/sls.2003.0003
    https://doi.org/10.1353/sls.2003.0003 [Google Scholar]
  24. Neidle, Carol , Judy Kegl , Dawn MacLaughlin , Benjamin Bahan & Robert G. Lee
    2000The syntax of American Sign Language: Functional categories and hierarchical structure. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  25. Padden, Carol & Darline Clark Gunsauls
    2003 How the alphabet came to be used in a sign language. Sign Language Studies4. 10–33. doi: 10.1353/sls.2003.0026
    https://doi.org/10.1353/sls.2003.0026 [Google Scholar]
  26. Petronio, Karen & Valerie Dively
    2006 Yes, no, visibility, and variation in ASL and tactile ASL. Sign Language Studies7(1). 57–98. doi: 10.1353/sls.2006.0032
    https://doi.org/10.1353/sls.2006.0032 [Google Scholar]
  27. Pfau, Roland & Markus Steinbach
    2011 Grammaticalization in sign languages. In Bernd Heine & Heiko Narrog (eds.), Oxford handbook of grammaticalization, 683–695. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  28. Pfau, Roland & Josep Quer
    2007 On the syntax of negation and modals in Catalan Sign Language and German Sign Language. In Pamela Perniss , Roland Pfau & Markus Steinbach (eds.), Visible variation: Comparative studies on sign language structure, 129–161. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter. doi: 10.1515/9783110198850
    https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110198850 [Google Scholar]
  29. Quer, Josep
    2012 Negation. In Roland Pfau , Markus Steinbach & Bencie Woll (eds.), Sign language. An international handbook, 316–339. Berlin: De Gruyter Mouton.
    [Google Scholar]
  30. Sandler, Wendy
    1999 Cliticization and prosodic words in a sign language. In Tracy A. Hall & Ursula Kleinhenz (eds.), Studies on the phonological word, 223–254. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. doi: 10.1075/cilt.174.09san
    https://doi.org/10.1075/cilt.174.09san [Google Scholar]
  31. Senghas, Richard , Ann Senghas & Jennie Pyers
    2005 The emergence of Nicaraguan Sign Language: Questions of development, acquisition, and evolution. In Jonas Langer , Sue T. Parker & Constance Milbrath (eds.), Biology and knowledge revisited: From neurogenesis to psychogenesis, 287–306. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
    [Google Scholar]
  32. Schembri, Adam , David McKee , Rachel McKee , Sara Pivac , Trevor Johnston & Della Goswell
    2009 Phonological variation and change in Australian and New Zealand Sign Languages: The location variable. Language Variation and Change21. 193–231. doi: 10.1017/S0954394509990081
    https://doi.org/10.1017/S0954394509990081 [Google Scholar]
  33. Shaffer, Barbara
    2002 can’t: The negation of modal notions in ASL. Sign Language Studies3(1). 34–53. doi: 10.1353/sls.2002.0026
    https://doi.org/10.1353/sls.2002.0026 [Google Scholar]
  34. Traugott, Elizabeth Closs
    1989 On the rise of epistemic meanings in English: An example of subjectification in semantic change. Language65. 31–55. doi: 10.2307/414841
    https://doi.org/10.2307/414841 [Google Scholar]
  35. 1995 Subjectification in grammaticalisation. In Dieter Stein & Susan Wright (eds.), Subjectivity and subjectivization: Linguistic perspectives, 31–54. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. doi: 10.1017/CBO9780511554469.003
    https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511554469.003 [Google Scholar]
  36. Veinberg, Silvana & Ronnie Wilbur
    1990 A linguistic analysis of the negative headshake in American Sign Language. Sign Language Studies68. 217–244. doi: 10.1353/sls.1990.0013
    https://doi.org/10.1353/sls.1990.0013 [Google Scholar]
  37. Wilcox, Sherman & Phyllis Wilcox
    1995 The gestural expression of modality in ASL. In Joan Bybee & Suzanne Fleischman (eds.), Modality in grammar and discourse, 135–162. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. doi: 10.1075/tsl.32.07wil
    https://doi.org/10.1075/tsl.32.07wil [Google Scholar]
  38. Zeshan, Ulrike
    2004 Hand, head, and face: Negative constructions in sign languages. Linguistic Typology8. 1–58. doi: 10.1515/lity.2004.003
    https://doi.org/10.1515/lity.2004.003 [Google Scholar]
  39. An introduction to American Deaf Culture: Group norms 1988 Silver Spring, MD: Sign Media, Inc.
    [Google Scholar]
  40. An introduction to American Deaf Culture: Identity 1988 Silver Spring, MD: Sign Media, Inc.
    [Google Scholar]
  41. An introduction to American Deaf Culture: Language and traditions 1988 Silver Spring, MD: Sign Media, Inc.
    [Google Scholar]
  42. An introduction to American Deaf Culture: Rules of social interaction 1988 Silver Spring, MD: Sign Media, Inc.
    [Google Scholar]
  43. An introduction to American Deaf Culture: Values 1988 Silver Spring, MD: Sign Media, Inc.
    [Google Scholar]
  44. Deaf culture: MJ Bienvenu 1989 Portland, OR: Sign Enhancers, Inc.
    [Google Scholar]
  45. Deaf culture: Howie Seago 1990 Portland, OR: Sign Enhancers, Inc.
    [Google Scholar]
  46. Deaf culture: Dennis Schemenaver 1990 Portland, OR: Sign Enhancers, Inc.
    [Google Scholar]
  47. Deaf Mosaic #1102: Final Episode 1995 Washington, DC: Department of Television, Film, and Photography, Gallaudet University.
    [Google Scholar]
  48. Frog stories in American Sign Language 2001 Gallaudet University. Erin Wilkinson.
    [Google Scholar]
  49. Frog stories in American Sign Language 2004 University of New Mexico. Erin Wilkinson.
    [Google Scholar]
  50. Live at SMI: Chalb ( J. Charlie McKinney and Alan Barwiolek ) 1993 Silver Spring, MD: Sign Media, Inc.
    [Google Scholar]
  51. Live at SMI: Patrick Graybill 1993 Silver Spring, MD: Sign Media, Inc.
    [Google Scholar]
  52. Live at SMI: Mary Beth Miller LIVE 1991 Silver Spring, MD: Sign Media, Inc.
    [Google Scholar]
  53. Pear Stories in American Sign Language 2004 University of New Mexico. Gabriel Arellano and Wendy Severns .
    [Google Scholar]
  54. See What I Mean: Differences between deaf and hearing cultures 2001 Portland, OR: Sign Enhancers, Inc.
    [Google Scholar]
  55. Viewpoints: Deaf education 2000 Portland, OR: Sign Enhancers, Inc.
    [Google Scholar]
  56. Baer, Joey
    2006-2007Joey’s ASL VLOG: Best my, your, our opinion in ASL!. www.joeybaer.com/
    [Google Scholar]
  57. Sentelle, Teri
    2006-2007Deaf dish. www.terisentelle.com
    [Google Scholar]
  58. Hamlow, Eric
    2006-2007Deaf eye. www.deafeye.com
    [Google Scholar]
  59. Deaf Queer News 2006-2007news.deafqueer.org/category/video/
    [Google Scholar]
  60. Save Gallaudet 2006-2007www.savegallaudet.org/
    [Google Scholar]
  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): collocations; frequency effects; grammaticalization; usage-based
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