Sign Lowering and Weak Drop as phonetic reduction phenomena: Observations from two sign languages (LSFB and NGT)

Research output: Contribution to conferenceOther


In this talk, I will be examining various (socio)linguistic factors that have an impact on phonetic reduction phenomena in sign languages, i.e. sign lowering and weak drop. I will do so by reviewing the results of two corpus studies conducted on LSFB (Paligot 2018) and NGT (Paligot, Kooij, Crasborn and Bank 2016). The factors covered include register variation, signers’ profile, sign frequency, formal structure of the signs, phonetic environment, and iconic form-meaning mapping. The main results I will present are the following:
(1) An analysis of LSFB data shows that the distribution of reductions is correlated to the formality of a speech situation. The more informal a discourse, the more frequent and important the reductions. Results indicate that register variation is not peripheral and directly shapes the variation patterns of reductions. I suggest that registers may govern the orientation of the influence that “high” signs may have on “low” signs and vice versa and that some cases of reductions observed in informal registers might be the result of a categorical process (see Hanique, Ernestus and Schuppler (2013) on Dutch data).
(2) A semi-automatized analysis of one-handed and two-handed variants in the NGT Corpus allows us to revise previous claims on weak drop variation in relation to the formal and iconic properties of the signs (e.g. Battison 1974; Kooij 2001). In particular, we show the differences of variation patterns between signs with and without an iconic form-meaning mapping.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 22 May 2018
EventSign Pop-Up - Radboud University Nijmegen, Nijmegen, Netherlands
Duration: 22 May 2018 → …


ConferenceSign Pop-Up
Period22/05/18 → …
Internet address

Cite this