Topicalization is a process of establishing a topic at the beginning of a sentence. This topic-comment structure familiarly as OSV (object-subject-verb) is a very common use in American Sign Language.
In an OSV sentence, the non-manual signal is raised eyebrows and tilt head forward at the beginning of the sentence when signing the object (O), then proceed with the rest of the sentence (SV).
Topicalization doesn't always mean an OSV sentence. It can be a topic in a complex set of sentences, while an OSV sentence can be a single sentence.
See a few examples below. The gloss /\ depicts raised eyebrows. I'll start with a few simple sentences before giving a more complex sentence.
Sign language videos visible in HTML5-based browsers.
The sentence above, /\book/\, ix-me give-hir (where "hir" is a non-gendered pronoun for "her/him"). The signer raises her eyebrows and slightly tilted her head forward when signing "book" and then produces the rest of the sentence.
Another example of a basic sentence is /\paper/\, please you-give-me.. In SVO (subject-verb-object), this would be please you-give-me paper. No raised eyebrows would be visible in this SVO sentence.
Below is a couple of more examples with a little more complex sentences.
fruit/\, left-it-too-long, spoiled
Fruits spoils when it is kept too long.
The signer begins with the signed word fruit (topic) and establishes this referent in its spatial location, in which fruit becomes it; then, she signs keep-it-too-long (or left-it-for-long-time). This movement (temporal aspect) repeats a few times which suggests "for a long time." When she signs spoils in the same space as the previous (verb). The use of the specific space/location is similar to "it" in English.
This content is available to subscribers. Please log in or sign up in the menu.
Enter a keyword in the field box below to search or filter the new topic list and click on the link.
New to sign language? "Where do I start?" or "How do I start learning sign language?" This ASL Rookie guide lists some selected links to the tutorials for ASL beginners to get started and keep rolling. It may be a useful review for intermediate-level learners and ASL students as well.
Some tutorial pages are a mix of free and premium versions. Access to premium content and links below are available in the PatronPlus subscription. More links/posts will be added from time to time.
Are you able to carry everyday conversations in ASL? Are you a student in the intermediate levels and beyond, who wishes to boost up your signing skills? You've come to the selected tutorial series. (Some premium content are available to PatronPlus membership.)
Stories, poems, performance arts, etc. in sign language.
This documentation project follows a child's language acquisition, literacy development, and phonological acquisition in sign language, specifically ASL, from newborn to age five in a natural native-ASL environment and visual culture.