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Volume Twelve: Issue Three

Spring 2012

ARTICLES
The Effects of Electronic Communication on American Sign Language
Erin Schneider, L. Viola Kozak, Roberto Santiago, and Anika Stephen

Abstract

“You want What on Your Pizza!?” Videophone and Video-Relay Service as Potential Influences on the Lexical Standardization of American Sign Language
Jeffrey Levi Palmer, Wanette Reynolds, and Rebecca Minor

Abstract

“He Said What?!” Constructed Dialogue in Various Interface Modes
Lesa Young, Carla Morris, and Clifton Langdon

Abstract

Word Order in Russian Sign Language
Vadim Kimmelman

Abstract

BOOK REVIEW
Signing in Puerto Rican: A Hearing Son and His Deaf Family, by Andrés Torres
Michele Bishop

Deaf around the World: The Impact of Language, Edited by Gaurav Mathur and Donna Jo Napoli

Pilar Piñar
ABSTRACTS
The Effects of Electronic Communication on American Sign Language

Technological and language innovation often flow in concert with one another. Casual observation by researchers has shown that electronic communication memes, in the form of abbreviations, have found their way into spoken English. This study focuses on the current use of electronic modes of communication, such as cell smartphones, and e-mail, and how they affect American Sign Language. This study explores Deaf ASL users’ perceptions of the extent that these memes have entered their signed lexicon. While the research focuses on social factors of age and gender in order to compare the use of these abbreviations by specific groups.

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You Want What on Your Pizza!?” Videophone and Video-Relay

Service as Potential Influences on the Lexical Standardization of American Sign Language This pilot study examines whether the increased virtual “mobility” of ASL users via videophone and video-relay services is contributing to the standardization of ASL. In addition, language attitudes are identified and suggested to be influencing the perception of correct versus incorrect standard forms. ASL users around the country have their own regional variant forms of some signs. In the past decade, the spread of video-relay technology and video-relay services (VRS), has allowed Deaf callers to be more connected with other Deaf callers and interpreters across the country. This new technology allows signers the opportunity to be more exposed to regional sign variation. Awareness of regional variation and the skill level of video-relay interpreters are possible factors that may encourage Deaf consumers to limit usage of local or regional variants, replacing them with more standard forms. This study illustrates ways in which the interaction between video-relay interpreters and Deaf consumers across the country may be impacting the structure and use of ASL.

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“He Said What?!” Constructed Dialogue in Various Interface Modes

This study analyzes the manifestation of constructed dialogue in ASL narratives as dependent on the interface mode (i.e., face-to-face conversation, electronic conversation over videophone, and vlog monologues). Comparisons of eye gaze over three interface modes shows how aspects of constructed dialogue are altered to fit the communication mode. Research on spoken languages has presented strong evidence of language variations as dependent on the interface mode (e.g. via telephone). Our study here examines whether American Sign Language also exhibits variation in response to the interface mode. We discovered that the features of constructed dialogue—eye-gaze and body (posture) shifts—are influenced by the interface mode. Specifically, our analysis shows that eye-gaze shifts were less frequent in the video monologues and even less common in the videophone interactions. These findings reveal that American Sign Language indeed exhibits effects of electronic communication.

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Word Order in Russian Sign Language

In this paper the results of an investigation of word order in Russian Sign Language (RSL) are presented. A small corpus of narratives based on comic strips by nine native signers was analyzed and a picture-description experiment (based on Volterra et al. 1984) was conducted with six native signers. The results are the following: the most frequent word order in RSL is SVO for plain and agreeing verbs and SOV for classifier predicates. Some factors can influence the word order, namely aspect marking on the verb (favors OV), semantic reversibility of the situation (favors SVO) and “heaviness” (manifested in the presence of modifiers) of the object (favors VO). One of the findings of the investigation is that locative situations are described differently in the narratives and in the experimental settings: in the latter but not in the former case the OSV order is quite common. This may result from two different strategies of creating locative sentences: syntactic vs. spatial strategy.

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