Indicating verbs as typologically unique constructions: Reconsidering verb 'agreement' in sign languages

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Colleges, School and Institutes

External organisations

  • Heriot Watt Univ
  • University College London


In this paper, we present arguments for an analysis of indicating verbs, building on Liddell (2000), as a typologically unique, unimodal fusion of morphemes and pointing gestures functioning as a construction that is used for reference tracking. This contrasts with many formalist analyses that assume that modification of indicating verbs reflect an agreement system similar to that found in spoken languages. We explain how our model of indicating verbs appear to align with a growing body of research in co-speech gesture, and is supported by some recent findings about these verbs from corpus-based studies of sign languages. By exploring some of the debate in the literature about indicating/agreement verbs, we suggest that any analysis of this subset of sign language verbs need also address these apparent similarities to multimodal constructions in spoken languages, as well as their relationship to other aspects of sign language grammar.


Original languageEnglish
Article number89
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 14 Aug 2018


  • sign language , agreement , directionality , deixis , multimodal , gesture