Chapter One continued...
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After describing the corner gas station, the signer traces the path of Mountain Road horizontally in signing space, and then articulates the sign NORTH along the same path (see Figure 5b).


Our analysis indicates that adopting a survey or route perspective when describing an environment leads to similar linguistic choices for ASL signers and English speakers. That is, for descriptions with a route perspective, both English speakers and ASL signers produce more motion verbs and more viewer-relational terms (e.g., left or right), compared to descriptions with a survey perspective. Thus, the lexical encoding of spatial perspective within a discourse is similar for both ASL and English. However, ASL signers can "spatialize" relational terms by producing them at locations within signing space that represent positions in the environment being described (rather than positions relative to the signer herself). Furthermore, lexical encoding does not appear to be the primary mechanism for expressing spatial perspective (as attested by the relative rarity of these terms). Rather, signers structure signing space in various ways to convey a route or a survey perspective. We next examine this aspect of spatial language that is unique to signed languages. Back to the Book

Both Karen Emmeroy and Brenda Falgier conduct their research at The Salk Institute of Biological Studies, of the Laboratory of Congnitive Neuroscience, at The Salk Institute in La Jolla, California.

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