Anaphoric expressions in ASl
Dorothy Ahn
May 2019

I review the current analyses of anaphoric expressions in ASL, including the null argument, bare nouns, and different kinds of IX, the pointing handshape that can be used to refer anaphorically to referents. I specifically focus on the use of IX and loci, where a locus is an abstract location in the signing space that can be associated with a referent, with subsequent IX to that locus referring to that referent. I point out a disconnect between the formal literature and the referent tracking studies that show that IX and loci are not obligatory or frequent in naturally produced data. I provide data from ASL that suggests that loci are triggered and licensed by contrast. In contexts with a unique salient referent, other forms such as the null argument, the bare noun, and the neutral IX (IX without loci, signed in the neutral position) are preferred. Based on this data, I propose a new analysis of IX to locus as a modifier, where IX to locus A is analyzed as a relative clause 'that is signed at A'. This differs from previous accounts of IX to locus which treated it as a definite determiner, a demonstrative, or a pronoun. The novel argument is that IX to locus is not on its own an anaphoric expression, but a relative clause that can attach to other nouns. The main advantage of this analysis is that it can account for the introductory use of IX to locus. A locus must first be introduced or associated with the antecedent before it can be used anaphorically. If IX to locus is an anaphoric expression as assumed in previous literature, this introductory use has to be analyzed as something else, because there is nothing familiar or anaphoric about the first time it is used to associate the locus with the referent. By analyzing IX to locus as a relative clause, I can give a unified account by saying that the relative clause modifier 'that is signed at A' composes appositively with antecedent DPs in the introductory use, while it composes restrictively with the null anaphor in anaphoric uses, returning the most salient entity that is signed at A.
Format: [ pdf ]
Reference: lingbuzz/004594
(please use that when you cite this article)
Published in: n/a
keywords: asl, ix, locus, definite description, relative clause, null argument, pronoun, clitics, sign languages, anaphoric expression, semantics
previous versions: v1 [May 2019]
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