Revisiting gradability in American Sign Language (ASL)
elena Koulidobrova, Kim Kurz, Christopher Kurz
January 2022

This paper addresses gradability in American Sign Language (ASL). The literature has argued that languages may or may not introduce degree variables, i.e., there is cross-linguistic variation with regard to whether languages should be analyzed as degree or degreeless languages (Beck et al., 2004). In particular, it has been proposed that ASL should be analyzed as a degree language (Kentner, 2020). In contrast, we argue that ASL is a degreeless language. Our discussion is based on a comprehensive examination of adjectives across different constructions (e.g., different comparison strategies, differential comparatives, questions targeting degrees, crisp judgments, etc.). We offer two types of evidence, which come from two different methodological choices: (i) elicitation and playback data with 4 consultants with different profiles across a variety of predicates and constructions; (ii) the SLAAASH corpus (Lillo-Martin & Chen Pichler, 2008), totaling over 200 hours of spontaneous production of four different Deaf children (ages 1;06-4;09), and their adult caregivers or experimenters in ASL. Our approach further means that Aristodemo & Geraci’s (2018) claim that sign languages may directly represent degrees due to the visual nature associated with signing does not find support in ASL
Format: [ pdf ]
Reference: lingbuzz/006380
(please use that when you cite this article)
Published in: under review
keywords: gradability, comparatives, degree constructions, asl, semantics
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