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Book Chapter

Morphology below the level of the sign - frozen forms and classifier predicates

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Zwitserlood, I. (2008). Morphology below the level of the sign - frozen forms and classifier predicates. In J. Quer (Ed.), Proceedings of the 8th Conference on Theoretical Issues in Sign Language Research (TISLR) (pp. 251-272). Hamburg: Signum Verlag.

Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-0012-2DB8-9
The lexicons of many sign languages hold large proportions of “frozen” forms, viz. signs that are generally considered to have been formed productively (as classifier predicates), but that have diachronically undergone processes of lexicalisation. Nederlandse Gebarentaal (Sign Language of the Netherlands; henceforth: NGT) also has many of these signs (Van der Kooij 2002, Zwitserlood 2003). In contrast to the general view on “frozen” forms, a few researchers claim that these signs may be formed according to productive sign formation rules, notably Brennan (1990) for BSL, and Meir (2001, 2002) for ISL. Following these claims, I suggest an analysis of “frozen” NGT signs as morphologically complex, using the framework of Distributed Morphology. The signs in question are derived in a similar way as classifier predicates; hence their similar form (but diverging characteristics). I will indicate how and why the structure and use of classifier predicates and “frozen” forms differ. Although my analysis focuses on NGT, it may also be applicable to other sign languages.