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Working paper

Word Order within the Nominal Domain in Russian Sign Language

Anna G. Klezovich, Kirill A. Aksenov.
This work aims at investigating the word order within the nominal domain in Russian Sign Language (RSL) with respect to Universal 20 and a hierarchy of adjectives. Universal 20 proposed by Greenberg (1963) postulates that there are three possibilities of the word order in the noun phrase, namely Demonstrative > Numeral > Adjective > Noun, Noun > Demonstrative > Numeral > Adjective, and Noun > Adjective > Numeral > Demonstrative. Later Cinque (2005) extended the definition of Universal 20 by proposing that actually 14 word orders can be derived from the base-generated word order Demonstrative > Numeral > Adjective > Noun, and, therefore, 14 word orders are acceptable. In addition to that, Scott (2002) proposed that adjectives of different semantic types also have a universal order. In this work we compare RSL data with these hierarchies and conclude that the underlying word order in RSL conforms to Scott's (2002) hierarchy and to Cinque's (2005) definition of Universal 20. In order to derive the underlying word order for RSL we explore which word orders are acceptable, which are unacceptable, and which of the attested word orders are the most neutral. Moreover, we explain the variability of the attested in RSL word orders with the number of modifiers by noun (single modifiers occur in preposition more often than multiple modifiers).