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Open Access Publications from the University of California


  • Author(s): Haviland, John B
  • et al.

Zinacantec Family Homesign (Z) is a new sign language emerging spontaneously over the past three decades in a single family in a remote Mayan Indian village. Three deaf siblings, their Tzotzil-speaking age-mates, and now their children, who have had contact with no other deaf people, represent the first generation of Z signers. I postulate an augmented grammaticalization path, beginning with the adoption of a Tzotzil cospeech holophrastic gesture-meaning "come!"-into Z, and then its apparent stylization as an attention-getting sign, followed by grammatical regimentation and pragmatic generalization as an utterance initial change of speaker or turn marker.

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