Emergence or Grammaticalization? The Case of Negation in Kata Kolok

Hannah Lutzenberger, Roland Pfau, Connie de Vos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
15 Downloads (Pure)


Typological comparisons have revealed that signers can use manual elements and/or a non-manual marker to express standard negation, but little is known about how such systematic marking emerges from its gestural counterparts as a new sign language arises. We analyzed 1.73 h of spontaneous language data, featuring six deaf native signers from generations III-V of the sign language isolate Kata Kolok (Bali). These data show that Kata Kolok cannot be classified as a manual dominant or non-manual dominant sign language since both the manual negative sign and a side-to-side headshake are used extensively. Moreover, the intergenerational comparisons indicate a considerable increase in the use of headshake spreading for generation V which is unlikely to have resulted from contact with Indonesian Sign Language varieties. We also attest a specialized negative existential marker, namely, tongue protrusion, which does not appear in co-speech gesture in the surrounding community. We conclude that Kata Kolok is uniquely placed in the typological landscape of sign language negation, and that grammaticalization theory is essential to a deeper understanding of the emergence of grammatical structure from gesture.
Original languageEnglish
Article number23
Number of pages26
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 28 Jan 2022


  • Gesture
  • Grammaticalization
  • Kata Kolok
  • Language change
  • Language emergence
  • Negation
  • Nonmanuals


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