- Question-Answer Pairs in Sign Language of the Netherlands
- Sign Language Studies
- Volume | Issue number
- 17 | 4
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Humanities (FGw)
- Amsterdam Center for Language and Communication (ACLC)
Several sign languages of the world utilize a construction that consists of a question followed by an answer, both of which are produced by the same signer. For American Sign Language, this construction has been analyzed as a discourse-level rhetorical question construction (Hoza et al. 1997), as a single-sentence question-answer pair (Caponigro and Davidson 2011), and as wh-clefts (Wilbur 1996). In this article, we analyze this construction in Sign Language of the Netherlands (NGT) based on corpus data. We demonstrate that its properties show a great deal of variation, making it impossible to apply any of the previous accounts to the NGT data. In particular, we found both discourse-level combinations of questions and answers, and single sentence structures resembling wh-clefts. We argue that this variation is a reflex of grammaticalization of discourse-level rhetorical strategy into a single-sentence construction functionally similar to wh-clefts.
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