Sign Language; Language Typology; Grammar; Psycholinguistics; Neurolinguistics; Sociolinguistics
Classifiers (currently also called ‘depicting handshapes’), are observed in almost all sign languages studied to date and form a well-researched topic in sign language linguistics. Yet, these elements are still subject to much debate with respect to a variety of matters. Several different categories of classifiers have been posited on the basis of their semantics and the linguistic context in which they occur. The function(s) of classifiers are not fully clear yet. Similarly, there are differing opinions regarding their structure and the structure of the signs in which they appear. Partly as a result of comparison to classifiers in spoken languages, the term ‘classifier’ itself is under debate. In contrast to these disagreements, most studies on the acquisition of classifier constructions seem to consent that these are difficult to master for Deaf children. This article presents and discusses all these issues from the viewpoint that classifiers are linguistic elements.