What is it about?
In this paper. we offer a preliminary investigation of some aspects of individual and group variation in sign rate and rhythm, considering the sociolinguistic factors of Age (younger and older adults), Gender, and Sign Variety (Black and Mainstream American Sign Language). Differences in sign rate and rhythmic structure among signers were found in signers’ elicited narratives. A novel approach to phrasal rhythm is introduced, called “rhythm ratio”, which considers sign duration and transition duration together and is similar in spirit to the “normalized pairwise variability index” (nPVI) in spoken languages. This measure appears to be promising as a method for identifying rhythm class in sign languages; however, due to the small number of signers in each group these results can only be suggestive.
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Why is it important?
In this work, we have proposed the new measure “rhythm ratio” as a way of capturing rhythmic patterns in sign varieties of ASL. This new linguistic measure will allow us to understand sign language rhythm from a new perspective, and can be pursued in future work to understand its implications for sign language variation more generally – both within languages, and in cross-linguistic variation. Our findings suggest that the sociolinguistic factors of Age, Gender, and Sign Variety (in decreasing strength) may be salient with respect to rhythm.
Read the Original
This page is a summary of: Variation in phrasal rhythm in sign languages, Sign Language & Linguistics, October 2018, John Benjamins, DOI: 10.1075/sll.00010.bre.
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