Storytelling

Chapter One continued...
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The most frequent motion verbs were DRIVE, VEHICLE-MOVE (using the ASL vehicle classifier), PASS, CROSS (as in "cross over the river"), and TURN-LEFT, RIGHT*. These verbs were most often used in route descriptions of the town. Motion verbs were rarely found in survey descriptions, however the verb ENTER was frequently used at the beginning of both route and survey descriptions of the convention center. The classifier predicate WALK (using either the 1 handshape or V handshape) was occasionally used in a mixed or route description of the convention center.

Usage of the lexical relational terms LEFT, RIGHT (and variants encoding motion). Signers providing route descriptions of environments were significantly more likely to use the ASL signs LEFT, RIGHT (or LEFT-TURN, RIGHT-TURN) than signers producing survey descriptions (t(30) = 4.01, p < .01). However, the use of these terms was rare, even within route descriptions (see Table 2). On average, ASL signers only used one lexical relational term per description (x = 1.25, s.d. = 3.35).* In contrast, English speakers used an average of 7.5 lexical relational terms per description (derived from Table 3 in Tversky and Taylor, 1996).

The citation forms of LEFT and RIGHT are shown in Figure 2. The sign LEFT is unusual in that is articulated by the left hand when produced in isolation as a citation form. This may be the only sign in which handedness is specified within the lexicon. Within a discourse, the signs LEFT and RIGHT can be articulated with respect to distinct locations in the plane of signing space to indicate left/right from a particular vantage point. For example, some signers described the Maple Street "loop" of the Town with a lexical relational term, but they articulated the sign with respect to a "loop" in signing space on their left side (matching the left-side location of the loop on the map (see Figure 1a) . Figure 3 illustrates such an example.* The sign RIGHT-TURN is actually articulated on the left side of signing space, and the movement is outward from the body, rather than toward the right (compare Figure 2 with Figure 3).

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