PhD student Cindy van Boven recently started her research project on reduplication in Sign Language of the Netherlands (NGT). Reduplication is a process in which (part of) a sign or word is repeated, in order to yield a change in meaning. The project is funded by NWO.
Reduplication occurs in for example plural formation: the plural of the NGT noun 'book', for instance, is formed by repeating the sign. Reduplication is a productive means to form such new meanings in many languages – both spoken and signed. Not only nouns, but also verbs can undergo reduplication in many languages, for instance to indicate that an event takes place repeatedly, rather than only once.
However, as of yet, reduplication in NGT has not been systematically described – this project therefore aims at providing the first comprehensive description. For instance, one of the main questions is: which signs can undergo reduplication, and which cannot? In other words, what are the restrictions on reduplication in NGT? The results will be compared to reduplication in other sign languages, but also to reduplication in spoken languages. The latter is interesting, because it can provide us with more insight into the influence of modality on reduplication.