What are the unique characteristics of sign languages that make them so fascinating? What have recent researchers discovered about them, and what do these findings tell us about human language more generally? This thematic and geographic overview examines more than forty sign languages from around the world. It begins by investigating how sign languages have survived and been transmitted for generations, and then goes on to analyse the common characteristics shared by most sign languages: for example, how the use of the visual system affects grammatical structures. The final section describes the phenomena of language variation and change. Drawing on a wide range of examples, the book explores sign languages both old and young, from British, Italian, Asian and American to Israeli, Al-Sayyid Bedouin, African and Nicaraguan. Written in a clear, readable style, it is the essential reference for students and scholars working in sign language studies and deaf studies.
The Routledge Encyclopedia of the Chinese Language is an invaluable resource for language learners and linguists of Chinese worldwide, those interested readers of Chinese literature and cultures, and scholars in Chinese studies. Featuring the research on the changing landscape of the Chinese language by a number of eminent academics in the field, this volume will meet the academic, linguistic and pedagogical needs of anyone interested in the Chinese language: from Sinologists to Chinese linguists, as well as teachers and learners of Chinese as a second language. The encyclopedia explores a range of topics: from research on oracle bone and bronze inscriptions, to Chinese language acquisition, to the language of the mass media. This reference offers a guide to shifts over time in thinking about the Chinese language as well as providing an overview of contemporary themes, debates and research interests. The editors and contributors are assisted by an editorial board comprised of the best and most experienced sinologists world-wide. The reference includes an introduction, written by the editor, which places the assembled texts in their historical and intellectual context. The Encyclopedia of the Chinese Language is destined to be valued by scholars and students as a vital research resource.
This book presents a first comprehensive overview of existing research on information structure in sign languages. Furthermore, it is combined with novel in-depth studies of Russian Sign Language and Sign Language of the Netherlands. The book discusses how topic, focus, and contrast are marked in the visual modality and what implications this has for theoretical and typological study of information structure. Such issues as syntactic and prosodic markers of information structure and their interactions, relations between different notions of information structure, and grammaticalization of markers of information structure are highlighted. Empirical studies of the two sign languages also showcase different methodologies that are used in such research and discuss their advantages and disadvantages. The book contains a general introduction to the field of information structure and thus can be used by linguists new to the field.
Sign language linguists show here that all questions relevant to the linguistic investigation of spoken languages can be asked about sign languages. Conversely, questions that sign language linguists consider - even if spoken language researchers have not asked them yet - should also be asked of spoken languages. The HSK handbook Sign Language aims to provide a concise and comprehensive overview of the state of the art in sign language linguistics. It includes 44 chapters, written by leading researchers in the field, that address issues in language typology, sign language grammar, psycholinguistics, neurolinguistics, sociolinguistics, and language documentation and transcription. Crucially, all topics are presented in a way that makes them accessible to linguists who are not familiar with sign language linguistics.
Internal lexical variation appears to be a prominent feature within signed languages; it is perhaps a result of their distinctive acquisition patterns and fragile transmission. Recent research in different signed languages indicates that sociolinguistic variation within signed languages parallels some patterns found in spoken languages, though with some factors distinct to the former. This research examines sociolinguistic variation in a regional sign language, Hong Kong Sign Language (HKSL), "spoken" by deaf people in Hong Kong. The focus of this dissertation is lexical variation and two phonological variations in the signs DEAF/HEARING, and 'location drop' in articulation of signs made at the forehead. This research project is a modified replication of the earlier studies in American Sign Language, Australian Sign Language, and New Zealand Sign Language (Lucas, Bayley, & Valli, 2001; Schembri, McKee, McKee, Pivac, Johnston, & Goswell, 2009; McKee & McKee, 2011). The data of 65 participants recruited from the researcher's networks in the HKSL community using the friend-of-a-friend method was analyzed. Three types of data were collected: free conversation, picture naming and interview. A set of 120 pictures (with/without Chinese characters) was used to elicit signs for the concepts represented. Fifty-one out of these 120 concepts were analyzed from the semantic domains of colour, kinship, number, and country/region. Results show that school attended and age of signer play a prominent role in lexical variation. A gender effect is also found in several concepts. In addition to individual lexical items, the use of compound signs, 'citation forms' and handedness in number signs were also examined. Various social factors including school, age, gender, education, and work environment, interact with each other to constrain the variant choices. While numbers over ten can be produced either one-handed or two-handed, signs for hundred and tens highly favour the latter.
This book examines the change in approach in deaf education where the skills and language of the child are exploited to the full to deliver an education which is accessible and meaningful. These new, challenging ideas for the first time offer a real bridge between the world of deaf people and the accumulated knowledge of hearing people.