An Experimental Approach to Word Order in Turkish Sign Language

Arik E.

BILIG, vol.94, no.94, pp.75-96, 2020 (SSCI) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 94 Issue: 94
  • Publication Date: 2020
  • Journal Name: BILIG
  • Journal Indexes: Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI), Scopus, International Bibliography of Social Sciences, Index Islamicus, Linguistic Bibliography, Linguistics & Language Behavior Abstracts, MLA - Modern Language Association Database, Political Science Complete, Sociological abstracts, Worldwide Political Science Abstracts, TR DİZİN (ULAKBİM)
  • Page Numbers: pp.75-96
  • Keywords: Word order, Turkish Sign Language, Experimental Linguistics, AGREEMENT
  • Abdullah Gül University Affiliated: No


The present study offers an experimental linguistic perspective to investigate word order in sign languages, focusing particularly on word order in Turkish Sign Language (Turk Isaret Dili-TID), one of the oldest, yet relatively understudied, sign languages. Two experiments were conducted to investigate TID signers' acceptability judgments of various orders of linguistic forms in a sentence. Experiment 1 consisted of 26 intransitive sentences with a 2x2 (SV vs. VS; Human vs. Animal) within-subjects design whereas Experiment 2 consisted of 28 transitive sentences with a 3x2 (Subject order: First vs. Middle vs. Last; Object order: Object-before-Verb vs. Object-after-Verb) within-subjects design. Both experiments asked native TID signers (n=8 and n=6, respectively) to rate sentences using 5-point Likert scales. Results from Experiment 1 showed that there was a significant main effect of Sign Order, indicating that participants gave significantly higher ratings to SV order over VS order. There was no main effect of Subject Type but an interaction between Sign Order and Subject Type. Results from Experiment 2 showed a significant main effect of object-verb order indicating that participants' ratings for the Object-before-Verb order were significantly higher than those for the Verb-before-Object order. In Experiment 2, there was no significant main effect of subject order or interaction. These findings suggested that TID has a preference for SV and OV over other possible orders.