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M.A. Theses in Linguistics
at the University of North Dakota
Penner, Mark 2013
The mouthing of verbs in Japanese Sign Language
Analyzing four publicly available stories told by Japanese Deaf people, this paper
shows that verbs are mouthed in natural Japanese Sign Language roughly 20% of the
time, whereas other word classes are mouthed roughly 46% of the time. More than half of
mouthed verbs are always or nearly always mouthed as one of their lexical properties.
Abstract verbs tend to be mouthed more frequently than concrete verbs. When a Japanese
Sign Language verb corresponds to a word that is not a verb in Japanese, it is far more
likely to be mouthed. Verbs in headed relative clauses are mouthed whenever possible.
Half of the verbs in clauses of emphasis proper are mouthed. Verbs in realis clauses are
mouthed roughly 13% of the time, whereas in irrealis clauses, they are mouthed 33% of
the time. In seven cases, verbs co-occurred with mouthings to distinguish between
multiple possible meanings of a sign.
Download thesis from http://arts-sciences.und.edu/summer-institute-of-linguistics/theses/_files/docs/2013-penner-mark.pdf