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Discourse in Signed Languages

Cynthia B. Roy, Editor

Publication Year: 2011

In this volume, editor Cynthia B. Roy presents a stellar cast of cognitive linguists, sociolinguists, and discourse analysts to discover and demonstrate how sign language users make sense of what is going on within their social and cultural contexts in face-to-face interactions. In the first chapter, Paul Dudis presents an innovative perspective on depiction in discourse. Mary Thumann follows with her observations on constructed dialogue and constructed action. Jack Hoza delineates the discourse and politeness functions of HEY and WELL in ASL as examples of discourse markers in the third chapter. Laurie Swabey investigates reference in ASL discourse in the fourth chapter. In Chapter 5, Christopher Stone offers insights on register related to genre in British Sign Language discourse, and Daniel Roush addresses in Chapter 6 the “conduit” metaphor in English and ASL. Jeffrey Davis completes this collection by mapping out the nature of discourse in Plains Indian Sign Language, a previously unstudied language. The major thread that ties together the work of these varying linguists is their common focus on the forms and functions of sign languages used by people in actual situations. They each provide new keys to answering how thoughts expressed in one setting with one term or one utterance may mean something totally different when expressed in a different setting with different participants and different purposes.

Published by: Gallaudet University Press

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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Editorial Advisory Board

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pp. ix


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pp. xi

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pp. xiii

No volume is complete without acknowledging those who made it possible. I thank Ceil Lucas and Kristin Mulrooney for the opportunity to be a guest editor for this volume, 17th in a series of outstanding volumes about the sociolinguistics of Deaf communities...

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pp. xv-xix

What is discourse? In The Handbook of Discourse Analysis, editors Schiffrin, Tannen, and Hamilton (2001) answer that question by reminding readers of two examples presented by Charles Fillmore. The examples were from signs at a local swimming pool. One sign said:...

Part I. Depiction in Discourse

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The Body in Scene Depictions

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pp. 3-66

Signed language discourse exhibits depictions of virtually any entity. Some of these depictions arise via the use of the body, as in the depiction of human physical actions. Others also make use of space, as in the depiction of a spatial relation between two entities within a setting. That the body and space are the material with which...

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Identifying Depiction: Constructed Action and Constructed Dialogue

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pp. 46-66

Languages can utilize two major types of communicative acts: real or literal behaviors that are actually happening at the time they are observed, and nonliteral behaviors that are not actually happening but are in fact a representation of something (Goffman, 1974). These...

Part II. Cohesion in Discourse

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The Discourse and Politeness Functions of Hey and Well in American Sign Language

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pp. 69-95

The signs that are commonly glossed as HEY and WELL in the literature often appear in American Sign Language (ASL) conversations. The sign HEY is generally understood to function as an attention-getter in order to open a conversation (Baker-Shenk & Cokely, 1980), and WELL is commonly used when hesitating,...

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Referring Expressions in ASL Discourse

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pp. 96-118

Referring expressions are an integral part of language, whether the language is spoken, written, or signed. Although forms in English such as it, she, that, that frog can refer to many different things, competent native speakers are able to understand these referring expressions correctly. How interlocutors use and comprehend various...

Part III. Coherence in Discourse

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Register, Discourse, and Genrein British Sign Language (BSL)

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pp. 121-154

Register is a linguistic outcome of a particular social situation; in different social situations people alter the way they use language. There are many different theories that look at the idea of register and genre. Halliday, as early as 1978, discusses three parameters that we...

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Revisiting the Conduit Metaphor in American Sign Language

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pp. 155-175

In the opening sentence in his recent book on metaphor identification, Gerard Steen states, “Metaphor is booming business” (Steen et al., 2010, p. 1). Many attribute the beginning of this boom to the publication of Metaphors We Live By, by George Lakoff...

Part IV. Discourse in Native American Sign Language

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Discourse Features of American Indian Sign Language (AISL)

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pp. 179-217

Historically, the vast geographic expanse and extreme linguistic and cultural diversity of North America contributed to Native American groups speaking numerous mutually unintelligible languages. In order to mediate this contact and language divide, the Indians often either adopted or developed an intermediary third...


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pp. 219-227

E-ISBN-13: 9781563685125
E-ISBN-10: 1563685124
Print-ISBN-13: 9781563685118
Print-ISBN-10: 1563685116

Page Count: 232
Illustrations: 29 tables, 51 figures
Publication Year: 2011