A1 Journal article (refereed)
Agent defocusing in two-participant clauses in Finnish Sign Language (2019)

Nordlund, S. (2019). Agent defocusing in two-participant clauses in Finnish Sign Language. Glossa, 4(1), Article 82. https://doi.org/10.5334/gjgl.801

JYU authors or editors

Publication details

All authors or editors: Nordlund, Sanna

Journal or series: Glossa

eISSN: 2397-1835

Publication year: 2019

Volume: 4

Issue number: 1

Article number: 82

Publisher: Ubiquity Press Ltd.

Publication country: United Kingdom

Publication language: English

DOI: https://doi.org/10.5334/gjgl.801

Publication open access: Openly available

Publication channel open access: Open Access channel

Publication is parallel published (JYX): https://jyx.jyu.fi/handle/123456789/65327


This article investigates what strategies are used for defocusing the agent in two-participant clauses in FinSL. The question is approached by analyzing a set of data that consists of videotaped informational texts. Several strategies for agent defocusing were found. First, the agent can simply be omitted. Second, the agent can be expressed with a pronominal pointing sign used non-referentially. Pronominal pointing signs that can be used non-referentially include at least the non-first person plural pronominal pointing sign and the first person singular pointing sign, possibly also the first person plural pointing sign. This study also suggests that constructed action is an additional, optional strategy through which the signer can tell the event either from the patient’s or the agent’s perspective. No special passive marking was found, and the form of clauses defocusing the agent does not seem to differ from that of corresponding clauses including a referential agent. The non-referential reading comes from the fact that there is no antecedent to which a zero, an indicating verb or a non-first person pronominal pointing sign could refer, and with first person pronominal pointing signs the interpretation is made based on the context.

Keywords: sign language; Finnish Sign Language; signs (sign language); clause types; passive voice

Free keywords: agent defocusing; passive; Finnish Sign Language; omission; pronominal pointing signs; constructed action

Contributing organizations

Ministry reporting: Yes

Reporting Year: 2019

JUFO rating: 2

Last updated on 2021-09-06 at 21:36