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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In this article we present some fundamental properties of the Croatian Sign Language (Hrvatski Znakovni Jezik, HZJ) pronominal system. The most common functions of pointing in HZJ are pronominal, demonstrative, locative, possessive and reflexive. Examination of the first person pronoun shows that the signer uses nonmanuals to indicate that she has taken the role of another person. Thus, the signer points to herself, but the intended reference is to a character in the story and not to the signer. These findings are used to provide evidence for grammatical first person. Viewed from Berenz’s (2002) perspective, grammatical second and third person pronouns show some degree of consistency within each category and differences across categories. When reference to the second person is intended, the characteristics hand orientation, eyegaze and the head will usually line up. In contrast, when reference to third person is intended, disjunction of some of these features occurs. Thus, the distinction between second and third person pronoun is linguistically marked in HZJ. Therefore we argue against Liddell (1995, 2003), who treats pointing as deictic, gestural, hence nonlinguistic. Furthermore we argue with Berenz against Meier (1990), who claims that at least for ASL there is no distinction between second and third person reference. Our morphological analysis reveals no gender distinction in the pronoun system, but there are distinctions between singular, plural, inclusive and exclusive pronouns. No correlation between spoken Croatian case marking and either HZJ handshape choice or systematic mouthing was found.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): Berenz’s Body Coordinates Model; HZJ; person reference; pronominal system
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