Situation Types in American Sign Language

CG Rathmann

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter in a book


Several kinds of situation types have often been distinguished in the literature: states, activities, semelfactives, achievements and accomplishments. Since these situation types relate to properties of states and events that occur in the world, they are understood in any language. It is at the linguistic level that situation types are claimed to be encoded differently across languages. This paper argues that all five situation types are manifested at the linguistic level in American Sign Language and is thus chiefly concerned with identifying the linguistic means that ASL uses to distinguish one situation type from another. Examples of linguistic means include the ability of a certain morpheme to appear with a verb and the ability of a certain adverbial to appear in a sentence. In identifying the linguistic correlates of situation types in ASL, this paper hopes to offer an interesting cross-linguistic and crossmodal perspective on aspect. For example, the discussion of accomplishments includes two morphemes (xMOVy and HOLD) and two kinds of complex verb constructions.
Translated title of the contributionSituation Types in American Sign Language
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Proceedings of SULA 2
EditorsJ. Anderssen, P. Menendez-Benito, A. Werle
Pages117 - 137
Publication statusPublished - 2003


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