Prof. Dr. Donna Jo Napoli
(Swarthmore College, USA)
Limitations on the drive for ease of articulation in
(sign) languages and dance
All languages exhibit the drive for ease of articulation (EOA) so far as we know. This drive is limited by the need to communicate, so the changed form must be recognizable, which, in sign languages, means iconicity must be largely preserved. Even poetic language may exhibit this drive, although it also exhibits enhancement (using more energy than ordinary language). Dance is different. Dance has both participatory and performative contexts, where participatory dance gives clear evidence of the drive for EOA. But performative dance does not. It has some properties in common with poetry, but few (if any?) in common with conversational language. Why? Language has sense independent of articulation; in dance, one cannot know the intention without witnessing the articulation, hence articulation resists a reduction in performance dance.