(A)symmetries in spoken and sign languages

This DFG-funded project concentrates on the yet unanswered fundamental question on whether or not grammar is intrinsically asymmetric or symmetric yielding a variety of surface asymmetries such as the preponderance of subject-verb orders over verb-subject orders and (nearly) uniform movement to the left periphery of the clause. One of the main questions addressed is to what extent left-right asymmetries in language may reduce to the ban on rightward movement and whether this ban is intra- or extra-grammatical in nature. There will be a specific focus on sign language, as it has been claimed that rightward movement is generally possible in sign languages, suggesting that the ban on rightward movement must be modularity-specific and cannot be a core property of syntax.

Neha Kulshreshtha (PhD student), Markus Steinbach (PI), Seid Tvica (postdoc), Hedde Zeijlstra (PI)