Sign Language poetry is especially valued for its presentation of strong visual images. Here, we explore the highly visual signs that British Sign Language and American Sign Language poets create as part of the 'classifier system' of their languages. Signed languages, as they create visually-motivated messages, utilise categoricity (more traditionally considered 'language') and analogy (more traditionally considered extra-linguistic and the domain of 'gesture'). Classifiers in sign languages arguably show both these characteristics (Oviedo, 2004). In our discussion of sign language poetry, we see that poets take elements that are widely understood to be highly visual, closely representing their referents, and make them even more highly visual -so going beyond categorisation and into new areas of analogue.
R. Sutton-Spence and Donna Jo Napoli.
"How Much Can Classifiers Be Analogous To Their Referents?".
This work is a preprint that is freely available courtesy of John Benjamins Publishing.