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Measuring Grammatical Complexity$
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Frederick J. Newmeyer and Laurel B. Preston

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199685301

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: December 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199685301.001.0001

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Sign languages, creoles, and the development of predication

Sign languages, creoles, and the development of predication

(p.37) 3 Sign languages, creoles, and the development of predication
Measuring Grammatical Complexity

David Gil

Oxford University Press

Sign languages and creoles are two kinds of young languages, and, as such, may be expected to be less complex than their older counterparts. This chapter shows that sign languages and creoles are simpler than other languages with respect to two central features of morphosyntax, namely the flagging of core arguments and the expression of tense, aspect and mood (TAM) categories. Building on a notion of predication which relates these two features, this chapter then argues that sign languages and creoles represent a relatively simpler grammatical type in which predication is either absent or only weakly developed. This simpler grammatical type is also observable in the language of young infants, and may be reconstructable for our hominin ancestors.

Keywords:   argument-flagging, child language, creoles, grammatical complexity, language evolution, morphosyntax, predication, sign languages, tense-aspect-mood marking

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