Quantification in American Sign Language

  • Natasha Abner
  • Ronnie B. Wilbur
Part of the Studies in Linguistics and Philosophy book series (SLAP, volume 97)


After presenting some basic genetic, historical and typological information about American 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 American Sign Language, both in terms of internal structure (morphological or syntactic) and distribution.


American Sign Language Quantification patterns Semantics Morpho-syntax Quantifiers Classifiers Determiners Quantified noun phrases 



We are extremely indebted to all of the Deaf consultants who have participated in the fieldwork sessions that inform this chapter, especially to Sandra Wood, who provided many insightful discussions of the quantifier data. We also thank Edward Keenan, Denis Paperno, and an anonymous reviewer for their valuable feedback and suggestions.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Linguistics DepartmentMontclair State UniversityMontclairUSA
  2. 2.Linguistics Program and Department of Speech, Language, and Hearing SciencesPurdue UniversityWest LafayetteUSA

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