Italian Sign Language


Italian Sign Language

Italian Sign Language or LIS ("Lingua dei Segni Italiana") is the manual language employed by deaf in Italy. It began to be deeply analyzed in the '80s, in the line of what William Stokoe had made with American Sign Language in the '60s. Until recently, most of the studies about Italian Sign Language deal with its phonology and vocabulary.

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Like many signed languages, LIS is very different from its "spoken neighbour", so that it has little in common with spoken Italian but shares some features with non-Indoeuropean oral languages (e.g. it is verb final, like the Basque language; it has inclusive and exclusive pronominal forms like oceanic languages; interrogative particles are verb final "You go where?").

A sign variety of spoken Italian also exists, the so-called Signed Italian (Italiano Segnato) which combines LIS lexicon with the grammar of spoken Italian: this is not Italian Sign Language, however.

Some features of LIS are typical of signed languages in general, e.g. agreement between nouns, adjectives and verbs is not based on gender (masculine, feminine, neuter) but it is based on place, that is the spatial position in which the sign is performed: nouns can be placed everywhere in the space but their position must be consistent with that of pronouns and verbs. The LIS translation of the sentence "The child speaks to the mother" appears as "Child-here mother-there this-speak-that" , rather than involving forms like "he, she". The voice intonation is replaced by facial expressions which mark interrogative sentences, imperatives and relative clauses. Other features of Italian Sign Language which can be found also in oral languages are: classifiers; dual, trial, quattrial and even quinquial forms in addition to the general plural; verbs inflected for person.

External links

* [http://www.istc.cnr.it/mostralis/ "Signs as Words", a divulgative website on italian Deaf people and LIS]
* http://elis.eurac.edu Il primo Dizionario elettronico di base bilingue LIS-italiano (http://elis.eurac.edu/diz)
* [http://www.dizlis.it DIZLIS]
* [http://michelebrunelli.interfree.it/GrammLIS_e_Restrittive.pdf The Grammar of LIS (.PDF)]
* [http://www.mpdf.it Mason Perkins Deafness Fund]


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