CARTA: How Language Evolves: David Perlmutter: Combinatoriality within the Word: Sign Language Evidence

7/6/2015; 21 minutes

In human languages, spoken and signed, words or signs are products of combinatorial systems that combine meaningless smaller units in different ways to yield different words or signs with different meanings. In spoken languages, those smaller units are the sounds of speech (phonemes). In sign languages, they are handshapes, movements, and the places on the body where signs are made. In this talk David Perlmutter of UC San Diego suggests that the evolutionary path for signs of iconic origin could provide an appropriate working model of the parallel evolution of non-iconic signs in sign languages and of the spoken words of spoken languages. Recorded on 2/20/2015. (#29401)

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