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On verbal arguments in sign languages

Tamar Makharoblidze
Published: 18 May 2022

Abstract: It is now accepted that sign languages ​​have a rich morphological structure in both flexion and derivation terms. Most foreign scholars believe that sign languages show simultaneous morphology rather than a consistent sequential one. Morphological marking of verbal arguments in the Georgian Sign Language (GESL) verbal paradigm is performed in three ways: 1. Deictive marking, such as the incorporated verb paradigm; 2. Possessive-destination marking with semantic content, such as version category, expressing respectful and disrespectful forms, as an additional semantic marking for an indirect object; and 3. Morpho-syntactic marking – adding the morphological markers for arguments conveyed by nouns. The subject of the transitive verb in the aorist is expressed with an ergative case, for the rest verbal forms the subject is in nominative (unmarked), while the indirect object is often marked with a deictive marker of dative case. Thus, here we have the combination of the abovementioned first and third types. In GESL (and in other sign languages as well) such combinations are usual. The semantic groups of verbs in sign languages can be distinguished according to the following two principles:
Keywords: verbal / sign languages / morphological / arguments / paradigm / structure / semantic

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