Mark Penner

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

J. Albert Bickford


Analyzing four publicly available stories told by Japanese Deaf people, this paper shows that verbs are mouthed in natural Japanese Sign Language roughly 20% of the time, whereas other word classes are mouthed roughly 46% of the time. More than half of mouthed verbs are always or nearly always mouthed as one of their lexical properties. Abstract verbs tend to be mouthed more frequently than concrete verbs. When a Japanese Sign Language verb corresponds to a word that is not a verb in Japanese, it is far more likely to be mouthed. Verbs in headed relative clauses are mouthed whenever possible. Half of the verbs in clauses of emphasis proper are mouthed. Verbs in realis clauses are mouthed roughly 13% of the time, whereas in irrealis clauses, they are mouthed 33% of the time. In seven cases, verbs co-occurred with mouthings to distinguish between multiple possible meanings of a sign.