Volume 6, Issue 1
  • ISSN 1387-9316
  • E-ISSN: 1569-996X
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Unlike most spoken languages, German Sign Language (DGS) does not have a single means of reciprocal marking. Rather, different strategies are used, which crucially depend on phonological (one-handed sign vs. two-handed sign) and morphosyntactic (plain verb vs. agreement verb) properties of the underlying verb. Moreover, with plain verbs DGS shows dialectal variation. Altogether there are four different ways of realizing reciprocal marking in DGS. In this paper, we compare a rule-based analysis for the reciprocal data (based on Brentari’s 1998 feature hierarchy) to an optimality-theoretic analysis. We argue that an OT-account allows for a more straightforward explanation of the facts. In particular, we show that the different strategies as well as the variation can be accounted for by the interaction of four, independently motivated constraints.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): agreement verbs; German Sign Language; Optimality Theory; reciprocals
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