Sign languages ed. by Diane Brentari (review)
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CitationARIK, E. (2013). Sign languages ed. by Diane Brentari (review). Canadian Journal of Linguistics, 58 (3), pp. 507-510.
There are two types of natural human languages: spoken and signed. Following the seminal works by Tervoort (1953) and Stokoe (1960), linguistic explorations over the past five decades or so have shown that sign languages possess several unique properties due to their visual-gestural basis. Signs are composed of minimal units such as manuals (shapes, locations, and movements of the hands), non-manuals (facial expressions, head, and body postures), and the space in front of the signer, all of which contribute to sign language phonology, morphology, syntax, and discourse. We are now in a good position to move beyond description of the grammar and begin to conduct studies on sign languages from, for example, sociolinguistic, psycholinguistic, and neurolinguistic perspectives. At present, we know that there are more than a hundred distinct sign languages and we have historical evidence for some of their origins. Therefore, sign language studies can offer striking new insights into the inner workings of human language.