Emergence or grammaticalization? The case of negation in Kata Kolok

Lutzenberger, H., Pfau, R., & de Vos, C. (2022). Emergence or grammaticalization? The case of negation in Kata Kolok. Languages, 7(1): 23. doi:10.3390/languages7010023.
Typological comparisons have revealed that signers can use manual elements and/or a non-manual marker to express standard negation, but little is known about how such systematic marking emerges from its gestural counterparts as a new sign language arises. We analyzed 1.73 h of spontaneous language data, featuring six deaf native signers from generations III-V of the sign language isolate Kata Kolok (Bali). These data show that Kata Kolok cannot be classified as a manual dominant or non-manual dominant sign language since both the manual negative sign and a side-to-side headshake are used extensively. Moreover, the intergenerational comparisons indicate a considerable increase in the use of headshake spreading for generation V which is unlikely to have resulted from contact with Indonesian Sign Language varieties. We also attest a specialized negative existential marker, namely, tongue protrusion, which does not appear in co-speech gesture in the surrounding community. We conclude that Kata Kolok is uniquely placed in the typological landscape of sign language negation, and that grammaticalization theory is essential to a deeper understanding of the emergence of grammatical structure from gesture.
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