sign language workshop

Sign Language Syntax and Linguistic Theory

a workshop dedicated to the memory of Irit Meir

organized by Balázs Surányi, Tamás Halm, and Veronika Hegedűs

invited speaker: Markus Steinbach (University of Göttingen)

time: Saturday, 14 April 2018
place: Rákóczi út 5, 1088 Budapest, R423
note: interpretation will be provided into Hungarian Sign Language during oral presentations

programme [abstracts]

Carlo Cecchetto and Caterina Donati: On the realization of wh-features in sign languages: a step into LIS [abstract]
Sara Cañas: Nonmanual marking of polar interrogatives in Catalan Sign Language (LSC): Approaching the puzzle through a feature-based theory of biases [abstract]
Judy Kegl and Conor Quinn: Role Prominence in American Sign Language and the Proximate/Obviative Contrast in Algonquian Languages [abstract] [slides]
coffee break
Julia Krebs and Ronnie B. Wilbur: Are agreement markers in Austrian Sign Language (ÖGS) really AUX? [abstract] [slides]
Isaac Gomes, Cilene Rodrigues and Josep Quer: An experimental study on the time window for acquisition of verb agreement in Brazilian Sign Language [abstract] [slides]
Vadim Kimmelman and Evgeniia Khristoforova: On the nature of classifiers in Russian Sign Language [abstract] [slides]
lunch break
Josep Quer: Reduplication revisited: verbal plurality and exhaustivity in the visual-gestural modality [abstract] [slides]
Mojmír Dočekal, Hana Strachoňová, Ondřej Klofáč, Mirka Tylová and Ivana Kupčíková: Semantics of distributivity in Czech Sign Language [abstract] [handout, you can get links to the videos from Mojmír]
Helen Koulidobrova: The Mass Problem: A Classifier Solution [abstract]
coffee break
poster session

  • Elena Benedicto: Verbal Classifiers (vCLSF) and Agreement: a formal matter [abstract] [poster] [paper]
  • Fabian Bross: More Evidence for an Iconic Mapping of Clausal Categories Onto the Body in German Sign Language (Deutsche Gebärdensprache) [abstract] [poster]
  • Chiara Calderone: Prosody and Syntax of sentence topics in Italian Sign Language [abstract] [poster] [handout]
  • Elena Fornasiero: Understanding Size and Shape Classifiers in Italian Sign Language [abstract] [poster]
  • Marloes Oomen: Iconic variables and null subjects in German Sign Language (DGS) [abstract] [poster]
  • Matic Pavlič: Spatial terms and conditions of Sign Language Agreement [abstract]
  • Giorgia Zorzi: Mismatch in gapping: φ-features in Catalan Sign Language (LSC) [abstract] [poster]
Markus Steinbach: Spatial features — The Syntax and Semantics of R-loci in German Sign Language


Linguistic research on typologically different sign languages (SLs) over the past fifty years has demonstrated vividly that SL grammars incorporate grammatical systems of pronominal reference, quantification, agreement, subordination, mood, aspect, and rules of sign order that are comparable to that found in spoken languages, including their historical development, acquisition, processing and variation. Taking this general conclusion to be well-established, a prominent trend of research focuses on those aspects of SL grammar that nevertheless appear to make SLs different from spoken languages. Such apparently SL-specific grammatical properties pose potentially fruitful challenges to the study of Universal Grammar (UG), and they offer illuminating perspectives on the ways sign languages are shaped by the gestural-visual nature of their modality (including the use of space, non-manuals, simultaneity, the interaction with gesture, etc).

This workshop provides a forum for the discussion of theoretical, and theoretically oriented typological and psycholinguistic aspects of SL syntax whose analysis contributes to a better understanding of UG, as well as the ways in which UG interacts with the properties of the gestural-visual modality to yield apparently SL-specific linguistic structures and phenomena.

Possible topics include, but are not limited to, the grammatical systems of:

  • syntactic categories
  • agreement (incl. verbal agreement, classifier constructions, role shift)
  • anaphor binding
  • coordination and subordination
  • syntactic displacement
  • sentence types
  • information structure
  • ellipsis

abstract submission

The same abstract may not be submitted to both the main colloquium and a workshop.

No abstract may be longer than 2 pages (A4 or letter size) with 1in margins, set single spaced in a 12pt font. Abstracts must be anonymous, self references should be avoided. Please make sure that there is no indication of the authors’ identity in the file submitted. (Files uploaded to Easychair are renamed by the system, but a PDF file may contain hidden information about its author or creator.)

You can submit an abstract to the workshop via Easychair:

The deadline for submitting abstracts is 15 November.