Spatial agreement in Italian sign language

Background: Linguistic research has led to the discovery and description of a very large number of national sign languages, including Italian Sign Language or LIS (Russo & Volterra, 2007), highlighting that grammar and syntax are expressed through modu- lation of movement, facial expression and in particular the use of space (Emmorey, 2003). The study of sign languages represents a fruitful and promising research line forinvestigating issues crucial for embodied and grounded cognition perspectives.
Aims: We aim to show the role played by space in LIS at lexical and grammatical levels analysing data collected with a sentence repetition task recently developed to assess language skills of children and adults exposed to Italian sign language (LIS).
Method: Ten sentences differing in length and degrees of linguistic complexity were presented. Twenty signing children, 10 deaf and 10 hearing, (age range 8-11 years) and ten deaf signing adults were individually encouraged to repeat each sentence. All repetitions have been videorecorded and analysed.
Results: Space has been used to express different syntactic and grammatical linguistic functions: such as agreement between ele- ments and transfer in space of classifiers constructions. Strong similarities appear in the use of space by adults and children. Aso- phisticated use of space is acquired quite rapidly, also by hearing children, exposed to LIS at school age.
Conclusions: Signs are, like words, arbitrary, but, being performed with the body, they are more ''visible''. The simultaneous articulation in spaceof two, or more, units of sense, represents an important cue to understand conceptual representation.

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Volterra, Virginia
Caselli, Maria Cristina
Rinaldi, Pasquale
Springer, Berlin , Germania
Cognitive processing (Print) 16 (2015): S59–S59. doi:10.1007/s10339-015-0732-7
info:cnr-pdr/source/autori:Volterra, Virginia; Caselli, Maria Cristina; Rinaldi, Pasquale/titolo:Spatial agreement in Italian sign language/doi:10.1007/s10339-015-0732-7/rivista:Cognitive processing (Print)/anno:2015/pagina_da:S59/pagina_a:S59/intervallo_
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Ritratto di Pasquale Rinaldi
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