Université de Paris – Bât. ODG – 1e étage – Salle 153
Charlotte Hauser (LLF)
Subordination in French Sign Language: nominal and sentential embedding
In this dissertation, we aim at investigating the syntactic complexity of LSF. We start with the Iwell studied (in other sign languages) case of relativization strategies, which instantiates both subordination and recursive embedding. These properties have repeatedly been argued to be at the heart of human languages; hence, relative clauses are the flag holder of every understudied language aiming at seeing its status recognized. Regarding LSF, we describe two manual markers that we analyze as d-like relative pronouns, as well as a non-manually marked alternative strategy, and we show that LSF has both internally and externally headed relative clauses. We show that, depending on the relative pronoun used, the relatives instantiates different semantic properties. We integrate our findings in a generative formal framework. We also investigate the processing of subject and object relative clauses in this language, through the adaptation of a well-known eye-tracking paradigm. Through this experimental study, we find the existence of a Subject advantage in LSF. In the second part of the dissertation, we investigate several complex sentences: temporal constructions, question-answer pairs and sentential complements. While we know from spoken languages researches that temporal constructions surface through a variety of syntactic strategies such as subordination, juxtaposition or coordination, finding their equivalent in sign languages is often a challenge due to the absence of overt complementizers and other function words such as coordinators. This dissertation explores temporal constructions in LSF and frames them within a broad typological perspective. We show that LSF temporal clauses are very different from those of LIS. In particular, LSF constructions use two coordinated clauses, and the temporal marker is part of the second conjunct. Regarding Question Answer Pairs (QAP), a growing literature has emerged on sign languages describing this particular construction, which looks like a question followed by its fragment answer, but which crucially is not interpreted as such. In Kimmelman and Vink (2017), the authors propose the existence of a grammaticalization process, starting with information-seeking questions and ending with a question-answer constituent, creating a bridge between two of the main analyses that have been proposed in the literature to account for these constructions across sign languages. We demonstrate, based on an extensive depiction of LSF QAP properties, that the grammaticalization scale proposed in Kimmelman and Vink (2017) has to be further developed to integrate free- relatives as its ending point. Finally, we provide a rather extensive investigation of sentential complements in LSF, showing that, in their vast majority, they are subordinated to the main predicate. We also show that LSF displays various types of complements, either finite, non-finite, or introduced by a complementizer.