Language of perception in Kata Kolok

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This study describes the sensory lexicon on the domains of colour, taste, shape, smell and touch of a rural sign language called Kata Kolok (KK). Taste was highly codable for Kata Kolok signers, who used a dedicated set of signs and facial expressions to indicate each of the taste stimuli. The second most codable perceptual domain was shape, for which signers often used classifiers and tracing gestures that reflected the shape of the object directly. Smell had a comparatively intermediate level of codability, but this was due, for the most part, to the use of evaluative terms. Although Kata Kolok has a dedicated set of colour signs, these leave large parts of the colour spectrum unnamed, resulting in low degrees of codability in this sensory domain. Unnamed colours were frequently described by iconic-indexical forms such as object labelling and pointing strategies. Touch was the least codable domain for Kata Kolok, which resulted in a wide range of iconically motivated constructions including a restricted set of domain-specific lexical signs, classifiers, tracing gestures, object labelling, and general evaluative terms.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Oxford Handbook of the Language of Perception
EditorsAsifa Majid, Stephen C. Levinson
Place of PublicationOxford
PublisherOxford University Press
Publication statusPublished - 2017
Externally publishedYes


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