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Linguistics: Phonology

  • By: Diane Brentari
  • In: The SAGE Deaf Studies Encyclopedia
  • Edited by: Genie Gertz & Patrick Boudreault
  • Subject:Physical Disabilities, Otorhinolaryngology (Ears, Nose, & Throat)

Every language has a phonological grammar that accomplishes fundamental tasks that organize the forms within it, and all native users of a signed or a spoken language know these things without being explicitly taught them. The principles of the organization of phonology are the same in signed and spoken languages, but the way that they are realized or expressed is different in some cases, due to the different modality or channel of communication used. In sign language, this is visual/gestural, and in spoken languages, it is auditory/vocal. Just as in spoken languages, sign language phonology is concerned with the meaningless units (segments, syllables, features) of a linguistic system and how they combine via a set of rules or constraints to form meaningful units (morphemes, words, ...

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