Novel compounding and the emergence of structure in two young sign languages

Oksana Tkachman, Irit Meir

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper investigates how structure emerges in a young language, focusing on compounding in two young sign languages, Israeli Sign Language (ISL) and Al-Sayyid Bedouin Sign Language (ABSL). We focus on novel compounds (tokens invented on the spot) to ensure that we are studying a productive process and to avoid issues contingent with lexicalization. We found that both languages make use both of compounding and size-and-shape classifier constructions (SASS-constructions), but ISL and ABSL have conventionalized different structures and the structures they do use are conventionalized to different degrees. We discuss the similarities and differences of those constructions in ISL and ABSL in the context of structure emergence and language evolution.

Original languageEnglish
Article number136
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 The Author(s).


  • Al-Sayyid Bedouin Sign Language
  • Compounding
  • Israeli Sign Language
  • Language emergence
  • Novel compounds
  • Size-and-shape specifiers

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language

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