Volume 26, Issue 1
  • ISSN 1387-9316
  • E-ISSN: 1569-996X



The present research combines three fields of inquiry in sign language linguistics: verbal agreement, person features, and syntactic complexity. These topics have previously been addressed in isolation, but little is known about their interaction. This study attempts to fill this gap by investigating subject agreement in complement clauses in Russian Sign Language. By means of corpus investigation and grammaticality judgments, I found that subject agreement in clausal complements of the control predicates , and modal may be deficient – in particular, it can be reduced to the forms identical to first-person marking even in the case of a third-person subject controller. Deficient subject agreement in complement clauses is thus reminiscent of non-finite verbal forms in spoken languages. I further argue that the choice of first-person forms in deficient agreement reveals a default status of first person in sign languages, which is consistent with proposals regarding the modality-specific properties of first-person reference in these languages.

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