Carl Börstell

Carl Börstell


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Arbetar vid Institutionen för lingvistik
Telefon 08-16 12 43
Besöksadress Universitetsvägen 10 C, plan 2-3
Rum C 332
Postadress Institutionen för lingvistik 106 91 Stockholm

Om mig


Institution: Institutionen för lingvistik


Mina forskningsintressen inkluderar teckenspråk, typologi, grammatikalisering, morfologi, negation, grammatisk komplexitet och underordning.

Bland forskningsprojekten jag har arbetat med återfinns undersökningar av ikonicitetet hos tvåhandstecken/-gester i olika teckenspråk och gester, ordföljd i olika teckenspråk, samt annotering av ordklasser och syntaktiska funktioner i Svensk teckenspråkskorpus.

Mitt avhandlingsprojekt handlar om hur svenskt teckenspråk (och några andra teckenspråk) använder olika verbala och nominala strategier för objektsmarkering.

Maria Koptjevskaja Tamm (Stockholms universitet)
Irit Meir (University of Haifa)


I urval från Stockholms universitets publikationsdatabas
  • 2017. Irit Meir (et al.). Cognition 158, 189-207

    This study identifies a central factor that gives rise to the different word orders found in the world’s languages. In the last decade, a new window on this long-standing question has been provided by data from young sign languages and invented gesture systems. Previous work has assumed that word order in both invented gesture systems and young sign languages is driven by the need to encode the semantic/syntactic roles of the verb’s arguments. Based on the responses of six groups of participants, three groups of hearing participants who invented a gestural system on the spot, and three groups of signers of relatively young sign languages, we identify a major factor in determining word order in the production of utterances in novel and young communication systems, not suggested by previous accounts, namely the salience of the arguments in terms of their human/animacy properties: human arguments are introduced before inanimate arguments (‘human first’). This conclusion is based on the difference in word order patterns found between responses to depicted simple events that vary as to whether both subject and object are human or whether the subject is human and the object inanimate. We argue that these differential patterns can be accounted for uniformly by the ‘human first’ principle. Our analysis accounts for the prevalence of SOV order in clauses with an inanimate object in all groups (replicating results of previous separate studies of deaf signers and hearing gesturers) and the prevalence of both SOV and OSV in clauses with a human object elicited from the three groups of participants who have the least interference from another linguistic system (nonliterate deaf signers who have had little or no exposure to another language). It also provides an explanation for the basic status of SOV order suggested by other studies, as well as the scarcity of the OSV order in languages of the world, despite its appearance in novel communication systems. The broadest implication of this study is that the basic cognitive distinction between humans and inanimate entities is a crucial factor in setting the wheels of word ordering in motion.

  • 2017. Carl Börstell (et al.).

    In this dissertation, I investigate various aspects of object marking and how these manifest themselves in the signed modality. The main focus is on Swedish Sign Language (SSL), the national sign language of Sweden, which is the topic of investigation in all five studies. Two of the studies adopt a comparative perspective, including other sign languages as well. The studies comprise a range of data, including corpus data, elicited production, and acceptability judgments, and combine quantitative and qualitative methods in the analyses.

    The dissertation begins with an overview of the topics of valency, argument structure, and object marking, primarily from a spoken language perspective. Here, the interactions between semantics and morphosyntax are presented from a typological perspective, introducing differential object marking as a key concept. With regard to signed language, object marking is discussed in terms of both verbal and nominal strategies.

    Verbal strategies of object marking among sign languages include directional verbs, object handshape classifiers, and embodied perspective in signing. The first study investigates the use of directionality and object handshapes as object marking strategies in Al-Sayyid Bedouin Sign Language (ABSL), Israeli Sign Language (ISL), and SSL. It is shown that the strategies generally display different alignments in terms of the types of objects targeted, which is uniform across languages, but that directionality is much more marginal in ABSL than in the other two languages. Also, we see that there is a connection between object marking strategies and the animacy of the object, and that the strategies, object animacy, and word order preferences interact. In the second and third studies, SSL is investigated with regard to the transitive–reflexive distinction. Here, we see that there are interactional effects between object handshapes and the perspective taken by the signer. This points to intricate iconic motivations of combining and structuring complex verb sequences, such as giving preference to agent focusing structures (e.g., agent perspective and handling handshapes). Furthermore, the use of space is identified as a crucial strategy for reference tracking, especially when expressing semantically transitive events.

    Nominal strategies include object pronouns and derivations of the sign PERSON. The fourth study provides a detailed account of the object pronoun OBJPRO in SSL, which is the first in-depth description of this sign. It is found that the sign is in widespread use in SSL, often corresponds closely to object pronouns of spoken Swedish, and is argued to be grammaticalized from the lexical sign PERSON. In the final study, the possible existence of object pronouns in other sign languages is investigated by using a sample of 24 languages. This analysis reveals that the feature is found mostly in the Nordic countries, suggesting areal contact phenomena. However, the study also shows that there are a number of derivations of PERSON, such as reflexive pronouns, agreement auxiliaries, and case markers. The use of PERSON as a source of grammaticalization for these functions is attributed to both semantic and phonological properties of the sign.

    This dissertation is unique in that it is dedicated to the topic of object marking in the signed modality. It brings a variety of perspectives and methods together in order to investigate the domain of object marking, cross-linguistically and cross-modally.

Visa alla publikationer av Carl Börstell vid Stockholms universitet

Senast uppdaterad: 24 februari 2018

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