A ROUND TRIP FROM THEORY TO CORPUS: THE CASE OF UNIVERSAL 20 IN LIS Language: English Word order is under the microscope of formal and typological linguists since many years (, , ). Several generalizations have been proposed to account for order variation; some of them are considered universals, however, the empirical ground of these generalizations is biased by the fact that almost all languages under study are spoken languages (but see  for an exception). To what extent typological universals are also valid for SLs is still an open issue. We use corpus evidence to show that LIS conforms to Greenberg’s Universal 20 (U20), as reframed in  (see  for a study on U20 in TSL and  for a qualitative study of the DP in LIS). We claim that LIS conforms to the fine-grained structure in (1), adapted from . Data come from the LIS Corpus . We analyzed narrations of 162 signers. For each, the first 15 DPs containing at least a noun and a modifier are annotated. The coding scheme is in (2-3). Sociolinguistic predictors are in (4). The cleaned dataset of 1908 tokens is analyzed with mixed-effects model . (2) The distribution of modifiers wrt head-nouns indicates a preference for postnominal modifiers (63.7%). The position of nouns wrt the hierarchy in (1) shown in table1 suggests a partition of the DP in three areas: lower DP (almost categorical Noun>modifier), middle DP (preference for modifier>Noun) and higher DP (preference for Noun>modifier). Table2 illustrates the summary of the fixed effects. Three predictors are significant: Duration, Adjacency and Modifier types. Duration: the shorter the modifier, the more likely it precedes the noun. This reflects a lenghtening of postnominal modifiers due to intermediate phrasal boundaries. Adjacency: nouns tend to appear before the modifiers when more than one modifier is present in the DP. A movement constraint is forcing the noun to cross its modifier(s) and it is more likely to occur with multiple modifiers because it makes the DP layers visible. Modifier types: The fine-grained structure is collapsed into three macro areas each characterized by specific syntactic properties: noun movement in the lower part, no movement in the middle and roll-up movement in the higher part. We claim that movement is partially constrained by processing factors : the higher the noun climbs on the structure the higher the processing cost (roll-up movement being the most costly option). Corpus evidence shows that LIS conforms to the refined version of U20 in (1). Although rare, the pattern of LIS is attested in spoken languages including a number of creoles. Interesting speculations may follow, capitalizing on the fact that even when considering fine-grained structure it is possible to find patterns of potential re-creolization. The challenge posed by U20 opened a vivid debate in theoretical linguistics, we addressed this issue in a new empirical domain (LIS) and from an unusual perspective (quantitative linguistics). Even in languages with flexible order, typological universals are respected both at the macroscopic and microscopic level. Examples (1) (2) (3) (4) QP univ > DemP (Det°) > QP distr > OrdinalP > CardinalP > AP > Relational Adj > NP Dependent variable: 1216 postminal modifiers (63.7%); 692 prenominal modifiers (36.3%). Linguistic predictors: a) Duration (logarithmically transformed); b) Modifier type (quantifier, adjective, possessive, etc.); c) Part of speech (adjective, noun, verb, etc.); d) Number of modifiers within the same DP (1, 2, 3 or more); e) Number of intervening signs between noun and modifier (0, 1, 2 or more); f) Type of clause (main, embedded, completive); g) Adjective-specific predictors: adjective degree and semantic class. Social predictors: a) Typical predictors of sociolinguistic works: age, gender, education, geographic origin, urban/rural residence, and social class; b) Predictors linked to the Deaf world: presence of other Deaf relatives in the family, the role played by the subject in the Deaf community, exposition to high-level register. Table 1: Distribution of LIS data by the hierarchy in (1). Dependent: Noun>modifier Modifier Type Noun>modifer modifier>Noun quantifier 66.88% 33.12% det_point 69.74% 30.26% genitive 48.57% 51.43% poss_point 49.17% 50.83% possessive 80.00% 20.00% ordinal_number 32.00% 68.00% cardinal_number 21.25% 78.75% higher_adjective 39.29% 60.71% adjective 88.75% 11.25% relational_modifier 100.00% 0.00% relative_clause 100.00% 0.00% Table 2: Significant predictors in the mixed-effects model Effects (Intercept) Duration (log) Intervening: adjacent Modifier type: low Modifier type: mid Estimate 1.91481 -0.64752 0.75103 -1.33488 1.30294 Str. Error 0.59332 0.09686 0.20279 0.29821 0.28851 t 3.227 -6.685 3.703 -4.476 4.516 p 0.001250 2.31e-11 0.000213 7.59e-06 6.30e-06 Overall fit: AIC = 1828, logLik = -908.2. References  Greenberg, J. 1963. Universals of language. MIT Press.  Hawkins, J. A. 2004. Efficiency and Complexity in Grammars, OUP.  Cinque, G. 2010. The Syntax of Adjectives. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.  Zeshan, U. 2005. Sign languages. In Dryer, M., Gil, D. and Haspelmath, M. (eds) WALS. OUP.  Zhang, N.N. 2007. Universal 20 and Taiwan Sign Language. SLL 10 (1).  Geraci, C. et al. 2011. The LIS Corpus Project. SLS 11 (4).  Baayen, H. et al. 2008. Mixed-effects modeling with crossed random effects for subjects and items. JML, 59.  Bertone, C. 2009. The Syntax of Noun Modification in LIS, University of Venice WPL, 19.