PERSONAL PRONOUNS IN SIGN LANGUAGES: PART OF A LANGUAGE SYSTEM OR GESTURES?
This article is an overview of diff erent approaches to personal pronouns in sign languages (SLs). Namely, I concentrate on similarities and diff erences between SLs pro- nouns and pointing gestures. These items are of diff erent nature: the fi rst are considered as part of the language (signs), and the second (gestures) belong to the sound languages and have an additional function of accompanying the main signs. At the same time, the similarities between them are quite obvious. Both SLs pronouns and pointing gestures are prototypically reduced to hand movement and both of them serve to draw attention to a particular place or object. They have similar confi gurations and their orientation depends on the position of their referents. Both are acquired by children at about the same age. However, identifi cation of pronouns in sign languages with gestures may call into question their purely linguistic status. The paper argues, that SLs pronouns are more conventionalized, as compared to pointing gestures, and they bear grammatical meaning, thus proving to be part of a language system, but not gestures.