1 Section for Linguistics, Faculty of Humanities, Aarhus University, Aarhus University2 School of Communication and Culture - Linguistics, School of Communication and Culture, Arts, Aarhus University3 School of Communication and Culture - Linguistics, School of Communication and Culture, Arts, Aarhus University
A pilot study on content and polar interrogatives
This study investigates the primary types of interrogative constructions: Polar and content questions. The aim is to identify how and in which types of interrogative constructions the non-manual patterns described by Engberg-Pedersen (1993, 1998)are used. Furthermore, the aim is to identify if and how manual question words are used. DSL uses distinct nonmanual signals to mark content and polar questions and my findings reveal a rich system of both manual and non-manual markers. The manual question words in DSL form a large paradigm of at least six items. The syntactic position of the manual question words can vary, though they usually appear sentence finally. The nonmanual signals include specific facial expressions, head posture and mouthing. Some of the features are shared with other sign languages. Furthermore, although it has not been investigated in detail it seems that the nonmanual markers take scope over the entire question. However, my conclusions are tentative. First, having used only two consultants the findings are not generalisable. Second, the findings are based on elicited data only. More research is needed using natural discourse as data. Research on shared properties of languages and the theoretical conclusions about how language works have primarily been based on studies of spoken languages. I believe that the study of DSL can provide additional and valuable insight into the possible structures of human language. Furthermore, this study will contribute to the understanding of the linguistic variation and similarities existing not only among sign languages but among languages in general.