Investigating Understudied Sign Languages - Croatian SL and Austrian SL, with comparison to American SL
  • ISSN 1387-9316
  • E-ISSN: 1569-996X
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We present an initial description of the sign parameters in Croatian Sign Language. We show that HZJ has a comparable phonological structure to other known sign languages, including basic sign parts, such as location, handshape, movement, orientation, and nonmanual characteristics. Our discussion follows the Prosodic Model (Brentari 1998), in which sign structure is separated into those characteristics which do not change during sign formation (inherent features) and those that do (prosodic features). We present the model, along with discussion of the notion of constraints on sign formation, and apply it to HZJ to the extent that we are able to do so. We identify an inventory of the relevant handshapes, orientations, locations, and movements in HZJ, and a partial inventory of nonmanuals. One interesting feature of the HZJ environment is the existence of two fingerspelling alphabets, a one-handed and a two-handed system. We also provide additional analytical steps that can be taken after the initial inventory has been constructed. Both minimal pairs and constraints on sign formation are especially useful for demonstrating the linguistic systematicity of sign languages and separating them from gesture and mime.


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