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“Hold infinity in the palm of your hand.” A functional description of time expressions through fingers based on Chinese Sign Language naturalistic data

Lin, Hao and Gu, Yan (2022) '“Hold infinity in the palm of your hand.” A functional description of time expressions through fingers based on Chinese Sign Language naturalistic data.' Language and Cognition, 14 (1). pp. 61-84. ISSN 1866-9808

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Abstract

<jats:title>Abstract</jats:title><jats:p>This paper investigates the relationship between fingers and time representations in naturalistic Chinese Sign Language (CSL). Based on a CSL Corpus (Shanghai Variant, 2016–), we offer a thorough description of finger configurations for time expressions from 63 deaf signers, including three main types: digital, numeral incorporation, and points-to-fingers. The former two were further divided into vertical and horizontal fingers according to the orientation of fingertips. The results showed that there were interconnections between finger representations, numbers, ordering, and time in CSL. Vertical fingers were mainly used to quantify time units, whereas horizontal fingers were mostly used for sequencing or ordering events, and their forms could be influenced by Chinese number characters and the vertical writing direction. Furthermore, the use of points-to-fingers (e.g., pointing to the thumb, index, or little finger) formed temporal connectives in CSL and could be patterned to put a conversation in order. Additionally, CSL adopted similar linguistic forms in sequential time and adverbs of reason (e.g., cause and effect: events that happened earlier and events that happen later). Such a cause-and-effect relationship was a special type of temporal sequence. In conclusion, fingers are essential for time representation in CSL and their forms are biologically and culturally shaped.</jats:p>

Item Type: Article
Divisions: Faculty of Science and Health > Psychology, Department of
SWORD Depositor: Elements
Depositing User: Elements
Date Deposited: 14 Apr 2022 08:34
Last Modified: 14 Apr 2022 08:34
URI: http://repository.essex.ac.uk/id/eprint/32708

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