Seminar für Deutsche Philologie

DFG-Projekt: Discourse Referents in Space - Anaphora Resolution in German Sign Language (SPP 1727 XPrag.de)


New video on experimental pragmatics in sign language introducing the XPrag.de project "SignRef" at Göttingen University. Subtitles are available in German and English. Please use video player settings to change it!

Funding period: 2014-2017

Funded by: Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG)
Project in the context of the priority program "XPrag.de: New Pragmatic Theories based on Experimental Evidence"

Principal Investigators: Nivedita Mani, Edgar Onea, and Markus Steinbach (Göttingen)

Collaborative Investigators: Annika Herrmann and Jana Hosemann

Research assistants: Derya Nuhbalaoglu and Anne Wienholz


Project description:

The objective of the research project is to develop a theory of the linguistic structure and neuro-cognitive processing of anaphoric relations and discourse referents in sign language based on empirical data from German Sign Language (DGS). The project focuses on a characteristic of sign languages which is directly linked to the modality-specific realization of morphosyntactic, semantic, and pragmatic categories in the three-dimensional signing space: Sign languages actively use the geometrical properties of the signing space to establish discourse referents and disambiguate anaphoric relationships in a way which is alien to oral-auditory languages. The objective of the proposed research project is a theory of the linguistic structure and cognitive processing of anaphoric relations and discourse referents in sign language that is based on empirical and experimental data. On the one hand, this will contribute to the understanding of an under-studied language in the visual-gestural modality. On the other hand, it will also broaden our knowledge of the human language faculty in general and will provide new insights into the influence of modality on linguistic structure.