We are happy to announce a talk by Markus Steinbach (Göttingen) in the Semantics Colloquium.

The talk will take place on campus in IG 4.301.

Title: Once there was a gesture – now there is a sign. On the grammaticalization of gestures in sign languages

Date: June 9

Time: 4 pm – 6 pm ct


Sign languages, like spoken languages, are subject to diachronic changes due to external and internal factors. Recent studies on grammaticalization in sign languages have shown that, for the most part, the attested grammaticalization paths from lexical expressions to grammatical markers are modality-independent. In addition to these well documented grammaticalization processes, sign languages can also integrate and grammaticalize manual and nonmanual gestures. This special property results from the gestural basis of sign languages and the fact that gestures use the same articulatory channel that is also active in the production of signsThe visual-gestural modality of sign languages thus offers the unique property of developing grammatical markers on basis of manual and nonmanual co-speech gestures. In this talk, I focus on the interface between gesture and sign language and the specific semantic and pragmatic functions grammaticalized gestural elements express in sign languages. I discuss four case studies to illustrate formal and functional similarities and differences between co-speech gestures used in spoken languages and the related grammatical markers that have evolved from these gestures in sign languages.