Linguistics and Literature Studies Vol. 6(4), pp. 169 - 182
DOI: 10.13189/lls.2018.060403
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Kenya Sign Language (KSL) Phonology: Articulatory Properties and Phonological Processes


Jefwa G. Mweri *
Department Of Kiswahili and Kenya Sign Language Research Project (KSLRP). Faculty of Arts, University of Nairobi, Kenya

ABSTRACT

The study of phonology is concerned with the contrastive units of language whether these contrastive units are based on an audio language (like spoken languages) or a visual language (like signed languages). Spoken languages have as their smallest contrastive units' contrastive sounds while visual languages have articulatory properties as their contrastive units. The term phonology as a general scientific concept is used in sign language studies to refer to the study of those physical properties of signs whose contrasts lead to meaningful differences among signs Okombo et al [2]. The major distinguishing physical properties in KSL just like in other sign languages include: Hand shapes or hand forms (articulators), movement or motion (manner of articulation), location (place of articulation), and palm orientation (manner of articulation). These four articulatory properties of KSL together are referred to as manual signs where signs are physically produced by the hands and other parts of the body. However, often times manual signs have to combine with non-manual signs to make meaning. We can also add two more articulatory parameters to the ones above. That is, Non manual signs and the signing space. The above parameters can be viewed as the articulatory properties of a sign. According to Okombo et al, the actual nature of the sign depends on what the hand which performs the role of an active articulator does. It is also important to note that during the production of signs, they may influence each other and therefore determine sign order variation. This influence and subsequent variation in sign order is as a result of some phonological processes. A phonological process changes the appearance of an utterance by following well defined rules in phonology, but does not change the meaning of the utterance Vogler and Matexas [3]. In this paper we examine the articulatory properties of KSL or those physical properties of signs in KSL whose contrasts lead to meaningful differences among signs and also examine how signs in KSL influence each other and how this influence and subsequent variation in sign order is as a result of some phonological processes. We shall examine such phonological processes in KSL.

KEYWORDS
KSL Phonology, Phonological Processes, KSL

Cite This Paper in IEEE or APA Citation Styles
(a). IEEE Format:
[1] Jefwa G. Mweri , "Kenya Sign Language (KSL) Phonology: Articulatory Properties and Phonological Processes," Linguistics and Literature Studies, Vol. 6, No. 4, pp. 169 - 182, 2018. DOI: 10.13189/lls.2018.060403.

(b). APA Format:
Jefwa G. Mweri (2018). Kenya Sign Language (KSL) Phonology: Articulatory Properties and Phonological Processes. Linguistics and Literature Studies, 6(4), 169 - 182. DOI: 10.13189/lls.2018.060403.