POZNAN STUDIES IN CONTEMPORARY LINGUISTICS, vol.50, no.3, pp.207-230, 2014 (AHCI)
Recently, many studies have examined the phonological parameters in sign languages from various research perspectives, paying close attention in particular to manual parameters such as handshape, place of articulation, movement, and orientation of the hands. However, these studies have been conducted on only a few sign languages such as American and British Sign Languages, and have paid little attention to nonmanual features. In this study, we investigated yet another sign language, Turkish Sign Language (TID), focusing on both manual and nonmanual features to examine "minimal pairs", a cornerstone concept of phonology. We applied Brentari's (2005) feature classification and Pfau and Quer's (2010) phonological (or lexical) nonmanual categorization. Our analysis showed that both phonological features and constraints on TID sign formation have a phonological structure similar to other well-studied sign languages. The results indicate that not only are phonological features a necessary notion for the description of both manual and nonmanual parameters at the lexical level in TID, but also that nonmanuals have to be considered an essential part of sign as a way of better understanding their phonological roles in sign language phonology.