Scope-taking strategies and the order of clausal categories in German Sign Language

Abstract

The scope order of clausal categories has been claimed to be universal. In this paper we adopt a universalist cartographic approach to clausal syntax. By discussing the categories of speech acts, evaluation, epistemic modality, scalarity, volition and deontic, as well as other kinds of modality, we illustrate a striking regularity in strategies of scope-taking in German Sign Language (DGS): the wider/higher the scope of a clausal operator, the more likely its expression will occur with a high body part by way of layering; namely, descending from the eyebrows to the lower face, tentatively to the shoulders, and finally switching to manual expressions. For intermediate operators a left-to-right concatenation strategy is employed, and low categories are expressed by way of a manual right-to-left concatenation strategy. Hence, we propose a highly regular natural mapping of the scope-order of clausal categories onto the body. This sort of mapping can also be observed in other sign languages and may turn out to be universal.

Keywords

Cartography, scope order, clausal categories, functional heads, sign language, German Sign Language

How to Cite

Bross F. & Hole D., (2017) “Scope-taking strategies and the order of clausal categories in German Sign Language”, Glossa: a journal of general linguistics 2(1), p.76. doi: https://doi.org/10.5334/gjgl.106

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Authors

Fabian Bross (University of Stuttgart, Keplerstr. 17, 70174 Stuttgart)
Daniel Hole (University of Stuttgart, Keplerstr. 17, 70174 Stuttgart)

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0

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This article has been peer reviewed.

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