Plurality and dependency: the view from sign language

Jeremy Kuhn, Institut Jean Nicod


Over the last 20 years, empirical puzzles involving plurals have motivated changes to our understanding of semantic composition in natural language. In this talk, I address these topics with new data from two sign languages — LSF and ASL — focusing on the use of space and iconicity. In the verbal domain, I show that pluractional verb meanings display 'scopable iconicity,' in which an iconic meaning can be evaluated at different structural positions. In the nominal domain, I show that dependent indefinites and the adjectives same and different show spatial agreement with a plural licensor. Both of these findings inform existing theoretical debates about the semantics of plurality and dependency.