Quantifiers in Russian Sign Language

  • Vadim Kimmelman
Part of the Studies in Linguistics and Philosophy book series (SLAP, volume 97)


After presenting some basic genetic, historical and typological information about Russian Sign Language, this chapter outlines the quantification patterns it expresses. It illustrates various semantic types of quantifiers, such as generalized existential, generalized universal, proportional, definite and partitive which are defined in the Quantifier Questionnaire in chapter “ The Quantifier Questionnaire”. It partitions the expression of the semantic types into morpho-syntactic classes: Adverbial type quantifiers and Nominal (or Determiner) type quantifiers. For the various semantic and morpho-syntactic types of quantifiers it also distinguishes syntactically simple and syntactically complex quantifiers, as well as issues of distributivity and scope interaction, classifiers and measure expressions, and existential constructions. The chapter describes structural properties of determiners and quantified noun phrases in Russian Sign Language, both in terms of internal structure (morphological or syntactic) and distribution.


Russian Sign Language Quantification patterns Semantic Morpho-syntactic Quantifiers Classifiers Determiners Quantified noun phrases 



This research has been supported by NWO (project 360-70-520).


  1. Aristodemo, V., & Geraci, C. (2015, May 4–6). Comparative constructions and visible degrees in LIS. Presentation at formal and experimental advances in sign language theory 2015, Pompeu Fabra University.Google Scholar
  2. Barberà, G. (2014). Use and functions of spatial planes in Catalan Sign Language (LSC) discourse. Sign Language Studies, 14(2), 147–174.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Boolos, G. (1981). For every A there is a B. Linguistic Inquiry, 12, 465–467.Google Scholar
  4. Boyes Braem, P., & Sutton-Spence, R. (Eds.). (2001). The hands are the head of the mouth: The mouth as articulator in sign languages. Hamburg: Signum Press.Google Scholar
  5. Brentari, D. (1998). A prosodic model of sign language phonology. Cambridge: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  6. Burkova, S. I., & Filimonova, E. V. (2014) Reduplikatsija v russkom zhestovom yazyke (Reduplication in Russian Sign Language). Russkij yazyk v nauchnom osveshchenii, 28, 202–258.Google Scholar
  7. Davidson, K. (2013). ‘And’ or ‘Or’: General use coordination in ASL. Semantics & Pragmatics, 6(4), 1–44.Google Scholar
  8. Davidson, K., & Gagne, D. (2014). Vertical representation of quantifier domains. In U. Etxeberria, A. Fălăuş, A. Irurtzun, & B. Leferman (Eds.), Proceedings of Sinn und Bedeutung, 18, 110–127. Bayonne and Vitoria-Gasteiz.Google Scholar
  9. Fernald, T. B., & Napoli, D. J. (2000). Exploitation of morphological possibilities in signed languages: Comparison of American Sign Language with English. Sign Language & Linguistics, 3(1), 3–58.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Filimonova, E. V. (2012). Sredstva vyraženija distributivnoj množestvennosti v russkom žestovom jazyke (Means of expressing distributive plurality in Russian Sign Language). In O. V. Fedorova (Ed.), Russkij žestovij jazyk: pervaja lingvističeskaja konferentsija (Russian Sign Language: The first linguistic conference) (pp. 82–97). Moscow: Buki Vedi.Google Scholar
  11. Johnston, T. (2013). Formational and functional characteristics of pointing signs in a corpus of Auslan (Australian Sign Language): Are the data sufficient to posit a grammatical class of pronouns in Auslan? Corpus Linguistics and Linguistic Theory, 9(1), 109–159.Google Scholar
  12. Keenan, E. L. (2006). Quantifiers: Semantics. In Encyclopaedia of Language and Linguistics 10, 302308.Google Scholar
  13. Keenan, E. L., & Paperno, D. (2012). Preliminary generalizations. In E. L. Keenan & D. Paperno (Eds.), Handbook of quantifiers in natural language (pp. 941–949). Dordrecht: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Kimmelman, V. (2012). Word order in Russian Sign Language: An extended report. Linguistics in Amsterdam, 5(1), 1–55.Google Scholar
  15. Kimmelman, V. (2013). Doubling in RSL and NGT: A pragmatic account. In F. Bildhauer & M. Grubic (Eds.), Working papers of the SFB632 (Interdisciplinary studies on information structure (ISIS), Vol. 17, pp. 99–118). Potsdam: Universitätsverlag Potsdam.Google Scholar
  16. Kimmelman, V. (2014). Information structure in Russian Sign Language and Sign Language of the Netherlands. Doctoral dissertation, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam.Google Scholar
  17. Koulidobrova, E. (2012). When the quiet surfaces: ‘Transfer’ of argument omission in the speech of ASL-English bilinguals. Doctoral dissertation, University of Connecticut.Google Scholar
  18. Koulidobrova, E., & Lillo-Martin, D. (to appear). A ‘point’ of inquiry: The case of the (non-)pronominal IX in ASL. In P. Grodsz & P. Patel (Eds.), Impact of pronominal form on interpretation. Berlin: Mouton De Gruyter/Studies in Generative Grammar.Google Scholar
  19. Kuhn, J., & Arsitodemo, V. (2015). Iconicity in the grammar: Pluractionality in French Sign Language. Presentation at Linguistics Society of America 89. Google Scholar
  20. Lillo-Martin, D., & Meier, R. P. (2011). On the linguistic status of ‘agreement’ in sign languages. Theoretical Linguistics, 37(3–4), 95–141.Google Scholar
  21. MacLaughlin, D. (1997). The structure of determiner phrases: Evidence from American SignLanguage. Doctoral dissertation, Boston University.Google Scholar
  22. Mitchell, R. E., & Karchmer, M. A. (2004). Chasing the mythical ten percent: Parental hearing status of deaf and hard of hearing students in the United States. Sign Language Studies, 4(2), 138–163.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Nunes, J., & de Quadros, R. M. (2008). Phonetically realized traces in American Sign Language and Brazilian Sign Language. In J. Quer (Ed.), Signs of the time. Selected papers from TISLR 8 (pp. 177–190). Hamburg: Signum.Google Scholar
  24. Partee, B. H. (1995). Quantificational structures and compositionality. In E. Bach et al. (Eds.), Quantification in natural languages (pp. 541–601). Dordrecht: Kluwer.Google Scholar
  25. Perniss, P., Thompson, R. L., & Vigliocco, G. (2010). Iconicity as a general property of language; Evidence from spoken and signed languages. Frontiers in Psychology, 1, 227.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Petronio, K. (1995). Bare noun phrases, verbs and quantification in ASL. In E. Bach et al. (Eds.), Quantification in natural languages (pp. 603–618). Dordrecht: Kluwer.Google Scholar
  27. Pfau, R., & Quer, J. (2010). Nonmanuals: Their prosodic and grammatical roles. In D. Brentari (Ed.), Sign languages (Cambridge language surveys, pp. 381–402). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Prozorova, E. V. (2009). Markery lokal’noy struktury diskursa v russkom žestovom jazyke (Markers of local discourse structure in Russian Sign Language). Unpublished Doctoral dissertation, Moscow State University, Moscow.Google Scholar
  29. Prozorova, E. V., & Kibrik, A. A. (2007). Referential choice in signed and spoken languages. In A. Branco, T. McEnery, R. Mitkov, & F. Silva (Eds.), DAARC 2007 (6th Discourse Anaphora and Anaphor Resolution Colloquium) (pp. 41–46). Porto: Centro de Linguistica da Universidade do Porto.Google Scholar
  30. Pursglove, M., & Komarova, A. (2003). The changing world of the Russian Deaf community. In L. Monaghan, C. Schmaling, K. Nakamura, & G. H. Turner (Eds.), Many ways to be deaf (pp. 249–259). Washington: Gallaudet University Press.Google Scholar
  31. Quer, J. (2012). Quantificational strategies across language modalities. In M. Aloni et al. (Eds.), Selected papers from 18th Amsterdam Colloquium (pp. 82–91). Berlin: Springer.Google Scholar
  32. Schlenker, P. (2011). Quantifiers and variables: Insights from sign language (ASL and LSF). In B.H. Partee, M. Glanzberg, & J. Skilters (Eds), Formal semantics and pragmatics: Discourse, context, and models. The Baltic International Yearbook of Cognition, Logic and Communication: Vol. 6.Google Scholar
  33. Schlenker, P., Lamberton, J, & Santoro, M. (2013). Iconic variables. Linguistics & Philosophy 36, 91–149.Google Scholar
  34. Stokoe, W. C. (1960). Sign language structure: An outline of the visual communication system of the American Deaf. In Studies in linguistics, Occasional papers (Vol. 8). Buffalo: University of Buffalo.Google Scholar
  35. Stolz, T., Stroh, C., & Urdze, A. (2011). Total reduplication. The areal linguistics of a potential universal. Berlin: Akademie Verlag.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Van der Kooij, E. (2002). Phonological categories in sign language of the Netherlands. The Role of Phonetic Implementation and Iconicity. Doctoral dissertation, Utrecht: LOT.Google Scholar
  37. Van Herreweghe, M., & Vermeerbergen, M. (2012). Data collection. In R. Pfau, M. Steinbach, & B. Woll (Eds.), Sign language. An international handbook (HSK - Handbooks of linguistics and communication science) (pp. 1023–1045). Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.Google Scholar
  38. Zajtseva, G. L. (1987). Metody izučenija sistemy žestovogo obšenija gluhih (Methods of studying systems of signed communication of the deaf). Defektologija, 1, 3–11.Google Scholar
  39. Zeshan, U., Escobedo Delgado, C. E., Dikyuva, H., Panda, S., & de Vos, C. (2013). Cardinal numerals in rural sign languages: Approaching cross-modal typology. Linguistic Typology, 17(3), 357–396.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculteit der GeesteswetenschappenAmsterdam UniversityAmsterdamNetherlands

Personalised recommendations