LLCN Speaker Series welcome Tory Sampson, Thurs. Sept. 5th at noon

Tory Sampson is a second-year graduate student in the Linguistics doctoral program at UCSD. The talk is: ‘An Emerging SELF: The Copular Cycle in ASL’. Currently, she is working on describing the copular cycle in ASL, a grammaticalization phenomenon seen cross-linguistically in which a pronoun evolves into a copula. Refreshments will be served right after her talk. Please RSVP by Sept 3rd to


Tory Sampson & Rachel I. Mayberry

In modern ASL, the sign SELF has been found to be a reflexive pronoun (Baker-Shenk
& Cokely 1980; Kegl 2003; Sandler & Lillo-Martin 2006), a quasi-intensifier
(Koulidobrova 2009), and an emphatic (Wilkinson 2013a, b). Analyzing data from old
(1910-1915) and modern ASL corpora, we find that in sentences with nominal
predicates, SELF in the post-nominal position functions as a copula rather than as an
emphatic as commonly observed in spoken languages. In old ASL, the sign SELF was
used extensively as a third person subject pronoun. This suggests that the current sign
SELF has undergone a copular cycle, that is, a grammaticalization process in which a
pronoun evolves into a copula (Katz 1996). We provide evidence that SELF in ASL has
evolved a new copular function for use in sentences with nominal predicates.