Spatial Vantage Points in Norwegian Sign Language
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionOpen Linguistics. 2019, 5 583-600. https://doi.org/10.1515/opli-2019-0032
Previous studies on perspective in spatial signed language descriptions suggest a basic dichotomy between either a route or a survey perspective, which entails either the signer being conceptualized as a mobile agent within a life-sized scene or the signer in a fixed position as an external observer of a scaled-down scene. We challenge this dichotomy by investigating the particular couplings of vantage point position and mobility engaged during various types of spatial language produced across eight naturalistic conversations in Norwegian Sign Language. Spatial language was annotated for the purpose of the segment, the size of the environment described, the signs produced, and the location and mobility of vantage points. Analysis revealed that survey and route perspectives, as characterized in the literature, do not adequately account for the range of vantage point combinations observed in conversations (e.g., external, but mobile, vantage points). There is also some preliminary evidence that the purpose of the spatial language and the size of the environments described may also play a role in how signers engage vantage points. Finally, the study underscores the importance of investigating spatial language within naturalistic conversational contexts.