Anne Therese Frederiksen (UCSC)

Pronouns, space and implicit causality biases in American Sign Language

Pronominal reference is a widely discussed topic in the sign language literature because it is modality specific. In discourse, a signer can associate a referent with a spatial locus, and subsequent pronominal pointing signs indexing the same spatial locus will be interpreted as referring unambiguously to the nominal anchored there. But in spoken languages like English and German, pronouns are often ambiguous and speakers resolve them using different cues, such as implicit causality biases, that is, the tendency for a verb to elicit remention of a certain referent in the upcoming discourse. In this talk, I will discuss preliminary results of two experiments investigating the roles and interaction of spatial coherence and implicit causality biases in pronouns in American Sign Language.