Masha Esipova and Philippe Schlenker at the Week of Signs and Gestures in Stuttgart

 

Masha Esipova and Philippe Schlenker gave invited talks at the Week of Signs and Gestures workshop held at the University of Stuttgart on June 12-14, 2017. See the titles and abstracts below.

 

Masha Esipova: Co- and post-speech gestures: a prosody/syntax approach

Differences in structure and meaning between co- and post-speech gestures are an open question. For example, Schlenker (to appear) observes that, unlike co-speech gestures, post-speech gestures seem to require a discourse referent as an antecedent, similarly to non-restrictive relative clauses and ordinary anaphora. Schlenker (to appear) and Ebert (2017) propose to account for the differences between co- and post-speech gestures by positing different semantics for the two. In my talk I will explore an analysis under which gestures have a uniform syntax and semantics, and the co- vs. post-speech distinction only arises at PF during linearization. The restrictions on the anaphoric potential of post-speech gestures then emerge as a result of syntax-sensitive constraints on prosodic grouping.

 

Philippe Schlenker: Sign language grammar vs. gestural grammar

I argue that several non-trivial properties of sign language grammar can to some extent be replicated with 'hybrid' spoken language utterances that contain spoken words and 'pro-speech gestures' (gestures that fully replace spoken words, as opposed to 'co-speech gestures', which accompany words). These properties include: multiple loci to realize anaphora, including dynamic anaphora; agreement verbs that target loci corresponding to their arguments; the use of high loci to talk about tall individuals; the ability of ellipsis to disregard select properties of loci; the existence of Locative Shift, an operation by which a spatial locus can be co-opted to refer to a person found at the relevant location - as well as some constraints on Locative Shift; and the existence of repetition-based, iconic plurals, both with punctuated and with unpunctuated repetitions. While the point can be made theory-neutrally, it has theoretical consequences, as it suggests that several non-trivial properties of sign language can be known without prior exposure to sign language.