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Handshape markedness in American Sign Language

Resource type
Thesis type
(Thesis) M.A.
Date created
Phonological markedness in sign languages, and particularly handshape markedness, is an area of study that is relatively new. Corpus and participant studies have provided some information about specific subsets of handshapes, and the prevalence of specific handshapes cross-linguistically, though literature is sparser when looking at other aspects of markedness. Williams and Newman (2016) showed that markedness and visual saliency (specifically sonority) interact to affect word learning. This study is a partial replication focusing on the interaction of markedness and location contrasts. Sign-naïve hearing participants learned a series of nonsense signed words paired with images, with accuracy scores used to measure learning. The pseudowords contained various marked and unmarked handshapes, and were also varied by location (balancing for sonority). No significant effect of handshape markedness on response accuracy was found; however, participant accuracy was significantly affected by whether the target and competitor words were articulated in the same location.
66 pages.
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Copyright is held by the author(s).
This thesis may be printed or downloaded for non-commercial research and scholarly purposes.
Supervisor or Senior Supervisor
Thesis advisor: Farris-Trimble, Ashley
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