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The meaning of any linguistic expression resides not only in the words, but also in the ways that those words are conveyed. In her new study, Miako N. P. Rankin highlights the crucial interrelatedness of form and meaning at all levels in order to consider specific types of American Sign Language (ASL) expression. In particular, Form, Meaning, and Focus in American Sign Language, Miako N. P. Rankin considers how ASL non-agent focus, similar to the meaning of passive voice in English. Rankin’s analyses of the form-meaning correspondences of ASL expressions of non-agent focus reveals an underlying pattern that can be traced across sentence and verb types. This pattern produces meanings with various levels of focus on the agent. Rankin has determined in her meticulous study that the pattern of form-meaning characteristic of non-agent focus in ASL is used prolifically in day-to-day language. The recognition of the frequency of this pattern holds implications regarding the acquisition of ASL, the development of curricula for teaching ASL, and the analysis of ASL discourse in effective interpretation.
The Taiwanese Example
In the growing body of research on sign language linguistics, one area of inquiry considers an important component of all sign languages — handshapes — and whether the use of specific kinds increase in direct relation to the ease of their formation. Author Jean Ann provides significant clarification in her book Frequency of Occurrence and Ease of Articulation of Sign Language Handshapes: The Taiwanese Example. Ann employs a straightforward methodology in her examination of the use of Taiwan Sign Language (TSL) handshapes in five succinct chapters. In the first chapter, she discusses the two approaches linguists have taken toward understanding languages, and how these theories have influenced sign language researchers’ consideration of the ease of articulation and frequency of handshapes. In her second chapter, Ann delineates the physiology of hands and explains why certain digits move with greater dexterity than others. Ann applies this physiological information in the third chapter to construct a model for determining the ease of articulation of any logically possible handshape. She divides the handshapes into three categories, ranging from impossible to easy. In the fourth chapter, she applies her model to examine the patterns of TSL, first by describing the 56 handshapes identified in TSL, then determining how often each is used. She then compares the usage data to the handshapes’ ease of formation. The final chapter summarizes her findings and suggests implications of this work that are bound to generate further speculation and study on sign language handshapes in the future.
Growing Up Deaf in the Old South
The antebellum South’s economic dependence on slavery engendered a rigid social order in which a small number of privileged white men dominated African Americans, poor whites, women, and many people with disabilities. From Pity to Pride examines the experiences of a group of wealthy young men raised in the old South who also would have ruled over this closely regimented world had they not been deaf. Instead, the promise of status was gone, replaced by pity, as described by one deaf scion, “I sometimes fancy some people to treat me as they would a child to whom they were kind.” In this unique and fascinating history, Hannah Joyner depicts in striking detail the circumstances of these so-called victims of a terrible “misfortune.” Joyner makes clear that Deaf people in the North also endured prejudice. She also explains how the cultural rhetoric of paternalism and dependency in the South codified a stringent system of oppression and hierarchy that left little room for self-determination for Deaf southerners. From Pity to Pride reveals how some of these elite Deaf people rejected their family’s and society’s belief that being deaf was a permanent liability. Rather, they viewed themselves as competent and complete. As they came to adulthood, they joined together with other Deaf Americans, both southern and northern, to form communities of understanding, self-worth, and independence.
New Research on Interpretation
This new collection examines several facets of signed language interpreting. Claudia Angelelli’s study confirms that conference, courtroom, and medical interpretation can no longer be seen as a two-party conversation with an “invisible” interpreter, but as a three-party conversation in which the interpreter plays an active role. Laura M. Sanheim defines different turn-taking elements in a medical setting as two overlapping conversations, one between the patient and the interpreter and the other between the interpreter and the medical professional. In her analysis of discourse at a Deaf revival service, Mary Ann Richey demonstrates how Deaf presenters and audiences interact even in formal settings, creating special challenges for interpreters. Jemina Napier shares her findings on the nature and occurrence of omissions by interpreters in Australian Sign Language and English exchanges. Elizabeth Winston and Christine Monikowski describe different strategies used by interpreters to indicate topic shifts when interpreting into American Sign Language and when transliterating. The study concludes with Bruce Sofinski’s analysis of nonmanual elements used by interpreters in sign language transliteration.
The Third Ear in Experimental, Deaf, and Multicultural Theater
Gaillard crossed the Atlantic only a few weeks after the United States entered World War I. In his writings, he reports the efforts of American deaf leaders to secure employment for deaf workers to support the war effort. He also witnesses spirited speeches at the National Association of the Deaf convention decrying the replacement of sign language by oral education. Gaillard also depicts the many local institutions established by deaf Americans, such as Philadelphia’s All Souls Church, founded in 1888 by the country’s first ordained deaf pastor, and the many deaf clubs established by the first wave of deaf college graduates in their communities. His journal stands as a unique chronicle of the American Deaf community during a remarkable era of transition.
Hearing People in Deaf Families
The newest entry in the Sociolinguistics in Deaf Communities series explores the richness and complexity of the lives of hearing people in deaf families. Along with their own contributions, volume editors Michele Bishop and Sherry L. Hicks present the work of an extraordinary cadre of deaf, hearing, and Coda (children of deaf adults) researchers: Susan Adams, Jean Andrews, Oya Ataman, Anne E. Baker, Beppie van den Bogaerde, Helsa B. Borinstein, Karen Emmorey, Tamar H. Gollan, Mara Lúcia Masutti, Susan Mather, Ronice Müller de Quadros, Jemina Napier, Paul Preston, Jennie E. Pyers, Robin Thompson, and Andrea Wilhelm. Their findings represent research in a number of countries, including Australia, Brazil, England, Germany, the Netherlands, and the United States. HEARING, MOTHER FATHER DEAF: Hearing People in Deaf Families includes a comprehensive description of the societal influences at work in the lives of deaf people and their hearing children, which serves as a backdrop for the essays. The topics range from bimodal bilingualism in adults to cultural and linguistic behaviors of hearing children from deaf families; sign and spoken language contact phenomena; and to issues of self-expression, identity, and experience. A blend of data-based research and personal writings, the articles in this sociolinguistic study provide a thorough understanding of the varied experiences of hearing people and their deaf families throughout the world.
The Writings of a Deaf Activist
Lawrence Newman became deaf at the age of five in 1930, and saw his father fight back tears knowing that his son would never hear again. The next time he saw his father cry was in 1978, when Newman received an honorary doctorate from Gallaudet University, his alma mater. Newman was recognized for his achievements as a life-long advocate for deaf education, including receiving California’s Teacher of the Year award in 1968. Perhaps his greatest influence, however, stemmed from his many articles and columns that appeared in various publications, the best of which are featured in I Fill This Small Space: The Writings of a Deaf Activist. Editor David Kurs has organized Newman’s writings around his passions — deaf education, communication and language, miscellaneous columns and poems on Deaf life, and humorous insights on his activism. His articles excel both as seamless arguments supporting his positions and as windows on the historical conflicts that he fought: against the Least Restrictive Environment in favor of residential deaf schools; for sign language, Total Communication, and bilingual education; and as a deaf teacher addressing parents of deaf children. A gifted writer in all genres, Newman amuses with ease (“On Mini and Midi-Skirts”), and moves readers with his heartfelt verse (“Girl with a Whirligig”). Newman ranges wide in his ability, but he always maintains his focus on equal tights for deaf people, as he demonstrates in his title poem “I Fill This Small Space:” I fill this small space, this time Who is to say yours is better Than mine or mine yours
Educating Healthcare Interpreters
Deaf Americans have identified healthcare as the most difficult setting in which to obtain a qualified interpreter. Yet, relatively little attention has been given to developing evidence-based resources and a standardized body of knowledge to educate healthcare interpreters. In Our Hands: Educating Healthcare Interpreters addresses these concerns by delineating the best practices for preparing interpreters to facilitate full access for deaf people in healthcare settings. The first section of this volume begins with developing domains and competencies toward a teaching methodology for medical and mental health interpreters. The next chapter describes a discourse approach that relies on analyzing actual transcripts and recordings to train healthcare interpreters. Other chapters feature a model mental health interpreter training program in Alabama, using a Demand-Control Schema for experiential learning, the risk of vicarious trauma to interpreters, online educational opportunities, and interpreting for deaf health care professionals. The second section offers four perspectives on education, including healthcare literacy of the clients; the education of Deaf interpreters; the development of standards for spoken-language healthcare interpreters; and the perspectives of healthcare interpreter educators in Europe. The range and depth of In Our Hands takes significant strides in presenting educational opportunities that can enhance the critical services provided by healthcare interpreters to deaf clients.
Growing Up Hearing in a Deaf World
At last, Ruth Sidranksy’s groundbreaking book In Silence: Growing Up Hearing in a Deaf World is back in print. Her account of growing up as the hearing daughter of deaf Jewish parents in the Bronx and Brooklyn during the 1930s and1940s reveals the challenges deaf people faced during the Depression and afterward. Inside her family’s apartment, Sidransky knew a warm, secure place. She recalls her earliest memories of seeing words fall from her parents’ hands. She remembers her father entertaining the family endlessly with his stories, and her mother’s story of tying a red ribbon to herself and her infant daughter to know when she needed anything in the night. Outside the apartment, the cacophonous hearing world greeted Sidransky’s family with stark stares of curiosity as though they were “freaks.” Always upbeat, her proud father still found it hard to earn a living. When Sidransky started school, she was placed in a class for special needs children until the principal realized that she could hear and speak. Sidransky portrays her family with deep affection and honesty, and her frank account provides a living narrative of the Deaf experience in pre- and post-World War II America. In Silence has become an invaluable chronicle of a special time and place that will affect all who read it for years to come.
Researchers now understand interpreting as an active process between two languages and cultures, with social interaction, sociolinguistics, and discourse analysis as more appropriate theoretical frameworks. Roy’s penetrating new book acts upon these new insights by presenting six dynamic teaching practices to help interpreters achieve the highest level of skill. Elizabeth Winston and Christine Monikowski begin by explaining discourse mapping to enable students to develop a mental picture of a message’s meaning and the relationships of context, form, and content. Kyra Pollitt discusses critical discourse analysis, to reveal some of the cultural influences that shape a speaker’s language use. Melanie Metzger describes preparing role-plays so that students learn to effectively switch back and forth between languages, manage features such as overlap, and make relevant contributions to interaction, such as indicating the source of an utterance. Jeffrey Davis illustrates the translation skills that form the basis for teaching consecutive and simultaneous interpreting to help students understand the intended meaning of the source message, and also the manner in which listeners understand it. Rico Peterson demonstrates the use of recall protocols, which can be used to teach metacognitive skills and to assess the student’s sign language comprehension. Finally, Janice Humphrey details the use of graduation portfolios, a valuable assessment tool used by faculty to determine a student’s level of competency. These imaginative techniques in Innovative Practices promise gains in sign language interpreting that will benefit teachers, students, and clients alike in the very near future.