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Okan Kubus (Hamburg): Discourse Functions of Relative Clause Constructions (RCC) in Turkish Sign Language (TİD)

The paper focuses on an analysis of relative clause constructions (RCC) at discourse level and their functions in certain discourse modes in Turkish Sign Language (TİD). Discourse modes structure the text relying on the functions of its parts. Smith (2003) lists five major discourse modes: Narrative, Description, Report, Information and Argument. Each mode provides linguistic correlation between structure and function.

The data is based on TİD monologues in a small corpus (consisting of approximately three film hours) which has been annotated with special attention on relative clause construction types in three discourse modes (Narrative, Information and Description). Some of the material also entails shifts between these discourse modes. The discourse chunks were then analyzed within the framework of Segmented Discourse Representation Theory (Lascarides & Asher 2003).

Before presenting the functions of RCC in TİD, the paper provides qualitative and quantitative results on obtained RCC in the collection and compares them to RCC in other sign languages, coming from a cross-linguistic perspective. It also discusses the methodological restrictions in investigations of RCC in sign languages. After presenting some basic properties of RCCs, the referred expressions as RCCs in TİD in the discourse and familiarity of status of referring expressions will be outlined. The paper also provides an analysis of RCCs in TID within three main discourse modes (Narrative, Information and Description), represented by Segmented Discourse Representation Structures (SDRS).

The findings suggest that the use of RCC is favored in the narrative context where the signers refer to referents who have been introduced earlier. RC-constructions in descriptive and informative modes are mainly used to disambiguate discourse referents/entities.


Asher, N. & A. Lascarides (2003). Logics of Conversation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
Smith, C. S. (2003). Modes of discourse. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.