Negation in Singapore sign language
Ang, Mary Shu Yi
Date of Issue2017-04-04
School of Humanities and Social Sciences
Singapore Association for the Deaf
This thesis describes strategies of negation employed by Singapore Sign Language (SgSL), a language that has been historically influenced by vastly differing sign languages. These languages of influence are American Sign Language (ASL), a sign language that prefers non-manual negation strategies, and Shanghai Sign Language (SSL), which prefers manual negation strategies. With lacking descriptions of SSL, the present study looks to Hong Kong Sign Language (HKSL), a language related to SSL through historic relations (Sze, Lo, Lo & Chu, 2013). Negation is of interest to SgSL as negation grammaticalizes early in language emergence (Sandler, Meir, Padden & Aronoff, 2005). Thirteen manual negative forms are described in total. Traces of both ASL and SSL are noticeable in these forms, of which, seven forms bear similarities to ASL negators. Therefore, reflecting heavier lexical borrowing from ASL. Furthermore, SgSL uses morphological negation strategies common to East Asian sign languages (Zeshan, 2004) and likewise prefers manual negative strategies (Zeshan, 2006). Despite few manual negative markers of SSL origin, SgSL prefers manual dominant strategies in negation, like its relative sign language, HKSL (Zeshan, 2006). Patterns of negative handshapes and movements were also present in the data.