Languages are constantly formed and changed by the opposing forces of variation and conventionalization. Yet it is not clear whether one of the two forces is prior to the other in language emergence, nor do we know how the two interact early in the life of a language. By comparing two young sign languages, Israeli Sign Language (ISL) and Al-Sayyid Bedouin Sign Language (ABSL), both about 90 years old, we argue that the initial stages of a language are characterized by great variation. Conventionalization ensues, but it does not proceed in a unified manner in all linguistic domains of a language or in all languages equally; some domains and structures conventionalize before others, and in some languages the drive towards conventionalization is stronger than in others. We provide evidence for the claim that the drive towards conventionalization is the result of various socio-linguistic factors, such as time, the expansion of the community, the expansion of language use to new communicative domains, and the need to signal social identity.
|Title of host publication||Linguistic Contact, Continuity and Change in the Genesis of Modern Hebrew|
|Editors||Edit Doron, Malka Rappaport Hovav, Yael Reshef , Moshe Taube|
|Publisher||John Benjamins Publishing Company|
|State||Published - 2020|