The alignment of head nods with syntactic units in Finnish Sign Language and Swedish Sign Language

Author(s): Anna Puupponen, Tommi Jantunen and Johanna Mesch


In this paper, we examine the relationship between specific head movement events – head nods, often treated as prosodic boundary markers – and syntactic units in Finnish (FinSL) and Swedish Sign Language (SSL). In the study we investigated the alignment of head nods with syntactic units on the basis of a total of 20 (10+10) FinSL and SSL narratives. The results of the study show that in both languages head nods appeared similarly on syntactic boundaries and that the tendency was to align nods sentence-finally. However, not all head nods behaved this way: for example, a relatively large number of head nods were also found to occur sentence-initially or elsewhere in the sentence. Furthermore, head nods occurring on syntactic boundaries also had non-boundary marking functions, and not all syntactic boundaries occurred with head nods.


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