Date of Award

January 2013

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Linguistics

First Advisor

Regina Blass

Abstract

In this thesis I will be analyzing what has typically, in sign language literature, been termed classifiers and classifier constructions. I will be approaching them from the pragmatic perspective by applying Relevance Theory to explain their usage as representations that manipulate and modify their referents. The data comes from texts signed by native users of American Sign Language and are from academic lectures, interviews, narrative, and course curriculum. I have found that Relevance Theory adequately describes why and when classifiers constructions are used and that they function as a procedural referring expression.

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