Diversity across sign languages and spoken languages: Implications for language universals

K. Cormier, A. Schembri, B. Woll

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


We largely agree with the points raised by Evans and Levinson (2009, henceforth, E&L) about linguistic diversity, both regarding spoken languages and signed languages. Here we want to raise three main issues: (1) we expand on E&L's concern that the metalanguage used in cross-linguistic description may work well in the analyses of some languages, but not so well in others (we pick up on their example of “classifiers” in signed languages); (2) we discuss E&L's claim that sign languages lack pronouns; and (3) we join E&L in highlighting the importance of sign languages when considering linguistic diversity and for understanding the emergence of new languages. We conclude by stressing the need for all linguists to consider the multimodal nature of language (including gesture and “paralinguistic” characteristics such as intonation and prosody) rather than just the classic linguistic characteristics which are the exclusive focus of much work in mainstream approaches to the study of language.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2664-2667
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 2010


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