Central Taurus Sign Language: A Unique Vantage Point into Language Emergence
Abstract: Central Taurus Sign Language is a village sign language that
naturally emerged in the absence of an accessible linguistic model in an isolated remote
area in south-central Turkey, primarily as a result of recessive deafness in the community.
Due to cultural, geographical and financial circumstances, deaf villagers did not have the
opportunity to receive formal education and learn ... read moreTurkish Sign Language (TID). As verified
by a native TID signer, CTSL has developed without the influence of TID, and it is quite
distinct from it. Named after the mountains in the region, today it spreads over three
small neighboring villages. In this thesis, I present evidence for the emergence of
argument structure of distinct verb classes and the development of handshape classifiers in
CTSL. The primary goal of these studies is to investigate how the semantic complexity in
various different scenarios is realized on the surface structure of such a young language.
Like all village sign languages, CTSL is a unique vantage point into language emergence. It
can provide us with a window into the human capacity for language and can help answer the
question: What is it that humans are capable of creating from scratch in absence of a
linguistic tradition? As one of a growing number of village sign languages that have been
identified, CTSL represents an opportunity to draw comparisons among village sign languages
and to begin to make modest generalizations about language emergence and
Thesis (Ph.D.)--Tufts University, 2017.
Submitted to the Dept. of Psychology.
Advisor: Ray Jackendoff.
Committee: Diane Brentari, Ann Senghas, Jan Peter de Ruiter, and Ariel Cohen-Goldberg.
Keywords: Cognitive psychology, and Linguistics.read less