- The grammaticalization of headshakes: From head movement to negative head
- Book title
- New directions in grammaticalization research
- Number of pages
- Amsterdam: John Benjamins
- Studies in Language Companion Series
- Volume | Edition (Serie)
- Document type
- Faculty of Humanities (FGw)
- Amsterdam Center for Language and Communication (ACLC)
All sign languages investigated to date make use of a side-to-side headshake in the context of negation. This headshake, however, is qualitatively different from the co-speech gesture used by speakers in similar contexts. Following a discussion of the origin and use of gestural headshakes, we show that across sign languages, the distribution of headshakes - in particular, their scope and co-occurrence with manual negative elements - is subject to language-specific constraints, which
are clearly linguistic in nature. We thus argue that the headshake, as used in sign languages, is a linguistic element which has grammaticalized from a gestural input. We further discuss different types of sign language negation systems from a typological perspective, and we provide some speculations on their evolution in terms of Jespersen’s Cycle.
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