Gestural Agreement
Philippe Schlenker, Emmanuel Chemla
September 2017
 

We argue that a gesture replacing an English verb – a 'gestural verb'– displays some properties of 'agreement verbs' in American Sign Language (ASL). Specifically, gestural verbs involving (among others) slapping and punching can be realized as targeting the addressee (SLAP-2, PUNCH-2) if the object is second person, or as targeting some other position (SLAP-a, PUNCH-a) if the object is third person. This property is shared with ASL verbs that display object agreement. Strikingly, in both cases the object agreement marker can be disregarded under ellipsis and under the focus-sensitive particle only, a behavior which is shared with phi-features in spoken language – and is not entirely reducible to the presuppositional nature of the marker. The main findings are based on introspective judgments, but crucial examples are validated by an experimental approach. In sum, we provide initial evidence that English gestural verbs have a grammar, and that it partly mirrors that of some sign language constructions.
Format: [ pdf ]
Reference: lingbuzz/003120
(please use that when you cite this article)
Published in: To appear in Natural Language and Linguistic Theory
keywords: agreement, gestures, sign language, agreement verbs, gestural verbs, pro-speech gestures, ellipsis, focus, iconicity, semantics, syntax
previous versions: v6 [September 2017]
v5 [July 2017]
v4 [February 2017]
v3 [September 2016]
v2 [September 2016]
v1 [September 2016]
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