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Essays in Honor of William C. Stokoe
In 1999, many of today’s notable researchers assembled at a special conference in honor of William C. Stokoe to explore the remarkable research that grew out of his original insights on American Sign Language. The Study of Signed Languages presents the fascinating findings from that conference. Part 1, Historical Perspectives, begins with a description of the decline of sign language studies in the 1800s. Past research on signed languages and its relationship to language origins theory follows, along with a consideration of modality and conflicting agendas for its study. In Part 2, Language Origins, the first entry intrigues with the possibility that sign language could answer conundrums posed by Noam Chomsky’s linguistic theories. The next essay considers how to build a better language model by citing continuity, ethology, and Stokoe’s work as key elements. Stokoe’s own research on the gestural theory of language origins is examined in the section’s closing chapter. Part 3, Diverse Populations, delineates the impact of sign language research on black deaf communities in America, on deaf education, on research into variation in sign language, and even on sign communication and the motor functioning of autistic children and others. In its wide-ranging, brilliant scholarship, The Study of Signed Languages serves as a fitting tribute to William C. Stokoe and his work.
Sociolinguistics in European Deaf Communities
Volume 10 of the series explores sociolinguistics in various European Deaf communities. Editors Van Herreweghe and Vermeerbergen present a wide array of research inspired by the Sociolinguistics Symposium 14 held at Ghent University, Belgium, in April 2002. Noted contributors from Finland, Belgium, Ireland, the Netherlands, Germany, Sweden, Spain and the United Kingdom offer insights gleaned from the languages of their countries. Part One of this five-part volume investigates multilingualism and language contact among Finland-Swedish Deaf People. Part Two looks at regional variation and the evolution of signs in Flemish Sign Language, as well as gender-influenced variation in Irish Sign Language. Language policy and planning receives consideration in the third part, with a study of sign language lexical variation in the Netherlands and an analysis of the risks of codification in Flemish Sign Language. Part Four examines the implementation of bilingual programs for deaf students throughout Europe, and updates research on visually oriented language use in Swedish Deaf education classrooms. The final part of To the Lexicon and Beyond: Sociolinguistics in European Deaf Communities presents data on language attitudes, including a census of sign language users in Spain that reveal a changing language community. The last chapter of this fascinating assembly assays British Deaf communities and language identity in relation to issues of transnationality in the 21st century.
As access for deaf people grows around the world, a new profession has begun to emerge as well, that of Deaf translators and interpreters (T/Is). In his new study Toward a Deaf Translation Norm, Christopher Stone explores this innovation, including its antecedents and how it is manifested in public places. Most importantly, Stone investigates whether or not a Deaf translation norm has evolved as increasing numbers of Deaf T/Is work in the mainstream translating for websites, public services, government literature, and television media. For his study, the sixth volume in the Studies in Interpretation series, Stone concentrated his research in the United Kingdom. Specifically, he examined the rendering of English broadcast television news into British Sign Language (BSL) by both Deaf and hearing T/Is. Segments of the data feature simultaneous Deaf and hearing in-vision T/I broadcasts. Recording these broadcasts produced a controlled product that enabled direct comparison of the Deaf and hearing T/Is. Close analysis of these examples revealed to Stone that Deaf T/Is not only employ a Deaf translation norm, they take labors to shape their BSL text into a stand-alone product rather than a translation. Ultimately, Toward a Deaf Translation Norm opens up engrossing new vistas on current deliberation about neutrality in translation and interpretation.
This new volume focuses on scholarship over a refined spectrum of issues that confront interpreters internationally. Editors Melanie Metzger and Earl Fleetwood call upon researchers from the United States, Ireland, Australia, and the Philippines to share their findings in six chapters. In the first chapter, Roberto R. Santiago and Lisa A. Frey Barrick reveal how interpreters deal with translating source language idioms into American Sign Language (ASL). In Chapter 2, Lorraine Neeson and Susan Foley-Cave review the particular demands for decision-making that face interpreters on several levels in a class on semantics and pragmatics. Liza B. Martinez explains in Chapter 3 the complicated, multilingual process of code switching by Filipino interpreters when voice-interpreting Filipino Sign Language. Chapter 4 offers a deconstruction by Daniel Roush of the stereotype that Deaf ASL-users are direct or blunt, based on his analysis of two speech/social activities of requests and refusals. Jemina Napier investigates interpreting from the perspective of deaf consumers in Australia in Chapter 5 to explore their agenda for quality interpreting services. In the final chapter, Amy Frasu evaluates methods for incorporating visual aids into interpretations from spoken English to American Sign Language and the potential cognitive dissonance for deaf persons that could result.
In five compelling chapters, this volume elucidates several key factors of the signed languages used in select international Deaf communities. Kristin Mulrooney studies ASL users to delve into the reasons behind the perceived differences in how men and women fingerspell. Bruce Sofinski assesses the current state of transliteration from spoken English to manually coded English, disclosing that competent transliterators do not necessarily produce the desired word-for-sign exchange. In the third chapter, Paul Dudis comments upon a remarkable aspect of discourse in ASL–grounded blends. He discusses how signers map particular concepts onto their hands and bodies, which allows them to enrich their narrative strategies. By observing meetings of deaf and nonsigning hearing people in the Flemish Deaf community, Mieke Van Herreweghe determines whether interpreters’ turn-taking practices allow for equal participation. And the final chapter features a respected team of Spanish researchers led by Esperanza Morales-López who investigate the Catalan/Spanish bilingual community in Barcelona. These scholars measure the influence of recent worldwide, Deaf sociopolitical movements advocating signed languages on deaf groups already familiar with bilingual education. Turn-Taking, Fingerspelling, and Contact in Signed Languages takes professional and lay readers alike on a scholarly sojourn of eclectic enrichment for all.
Intricacies of Sign Language Access
“Signed language interpreting is about access,” states author Jeremy L. Brunson at the outset of his new book, and no manifestation of access for deaf people can be considered more complex than video relay services (VRS). In Video Relay Service Interpreters: Intricacies of Sign Language Access, Brunson delineates exactly how complicated the service can be, first by analyzing sign language interpreting as a profession and its relation to both hearing and deaf clients. He describes how sign language interpreters function in Deaf communities and how regulatory processes imposed by VRS providers can constrain communication access based on each individual’s needs. Brunson proceeds by acclimating readers to the environment of VRS and how the layout of the typical physical plant alters the practice of interpreting. The focus then falls upon intended VRS users, providing insights into their expectations. Interpreters shared their experiences with Brunson in 21 formal interviews and discussions. Many remarked on the differences between face-to-face interpreting and VRS training, which often runs counter to the concept of relating informally with deaf clients as a way to expand access. This thoughtful, sociological study outlines texts that originate between users and interpreters and how they can be used to develop VRS access. Video Relay Service Interpreters concludes with the implications of VRS interpreting for sign language interpreting in general and suggests where scholarship will lead in the future.
An Introduction to Variation in American Sign Language
This introductory text celebrates another dimension of diversity in the United States Deaf community — variation in the way American Sign Language (ASL) is used by Deaf people all across the nation. The different ways people have of saying or signing the same thing defines variation in language. In spoken English, some people say “soda,” others say “pop,” “Coke,” or “soft drink;” in ASL, there are many signs for “birthday,” “Halloween,” “early,” and of course, “pizza.” What’s Your Sign for PIZZA? derives from an extensive seven-year research project in which more than 200 Deaf ASL users representing different ages, genders and ethnic groups from seven different regions were videotaped sharing their signs for everyday vocabulary. This useful text and its accompanying CD begins with an explanation of the basic concepts of language and the structure of sign language, since sign variation abides by the rules governing all human languages. Each part of the text concludes with questions for discussion, and the final section offers three supplemental readings that provide further information on variation in both spoken and signed languages. What’s Your Sign for PIZZA? also briefly sketches the development of ASL, which explains the relationships between language varieties throughout the country.