Part One continued...|
PE did in fact vary in the signing of the nativ signer studied. This variation appears to be subject to linguistic and social constraints. The linguistic constraints that seem to influence the occurrence of PE include phonological constraints (handshape) and syntactic constraints (syntactic category). This study also provides a list of lexemes that accept PE but does not draw any conclusions regarding lexical constraints.
PE seems to respond to at least one social constraint. When the level of intimacy was low, PE occurred the least. As intimacy increased, the frequency of PE increased.
An equally important finding of this study was the factors that appear to have no influence upon the occurence of PE. Topic seems to play no role. Nor does preceding or subsequent handshape seem to have an effect. This is contrary to my initial hypothesis that assimilation would account for much or all of PE.
Perhaps the most intriguing finding is the tendency of PE to co-occur with prosidic features of ASL that indicate a kind of stress. The data show that PE tended to occur (1) with lexemes often repeated throughout a topic; (2) before pauses; (3) with lexemes lengthened to almost twice their usual duration. This is evidence that PE itself is a prosodic feature of ASL that indicates a type of emphatic stress or focus. Although in the visual modality, an extended pinky in sign language to indicate stress is analogous to stress in spoken languages indicated by a stronger signal as a result of greater articulatory effort.
Finally, it should be noted that the findings here are of single study of a single native signer. These findings are presented as suggested starting points for a more in-depth study utilizing more tokens and more subjects.