Gallaudet University Press

9:5 Tuesday, May 22, 2007

What’s Your Communication Style?

Illuminating the Differences Between American Sign Language
Signers and English Speakers

In the new study It’s Not What You sign, It’s How You Sign It: Politeness in American Sign Language, author Jack Hoza explains, “People may not always remember the specifics of a conversation, but they do remember their overall impressions of the other person, as well as how well they felt the conversation proceeded. For example, they may recall whether or not they felt the other person was cooperative, and whether or not the other person was friendly, polite, knowledgeable, standoffish, or rude.” Although differences in expectations and perceptions vary to some degree across a single language community, there are greater differences across different language communities. Of particular interest are two very different groups of language users: American Sign Language (ASL) signers and English speakers.

“This book is the result of my own interest and investigation into the language usage of ASL signers and English speakers. In writing it, I had three primary goals. First, I sought to go beyond the assumption that ASL signers are direct and English speakers are indirect. Second, I sought to clarify a specific area of cross-linguistic difference: politeness, and to explore two primary types of politeness and how the linguistic expression of politeness varies across languages. Third, I sought to report the findings of an investigation of the linguistic strategies used in various contexts by English speakers and ASL signers to express politeness concerns in face-to-face interaction.” Framed within politeness theory, the findings in this study reveal an interaction between the linguistic strategies employed by both language groups that goes beyond simply being direct or indirect.

Read more about this engrossing study in chapter 8, Why It Matters How You Say It, and use your exclusive subscriber discount to save 20% off the regular price when you order It’s Not What You Sign, It’s How You Sign It online or by mail. For online orders, type “MAY0720%” in the “Comments or Special Instructions” box below your credit card information.

Disability Studies Quarterly (DSQ), the first journal in the field of disability studies, lauded Deaf Learners: Developments in Curriculum and Instruction edited by Donald F. Moores and David S. Martin: “The editors and contributors to Deaf Learners have compiled a set of articles that are informative and give practical suggestions for educators and administrators who are concerned with creating positive, success oriented educational experiences for special learners.” Additionally, Deaf Learners garnered the following acclaim from CHOICE magazine: “This is a truly excellent book in the field of deaf education . . . . [It] is easy to understand and will be a useful tool for any one working with hearing-impaired students, but is especially good for general educators who have deaf children in their classrooms. Highly recommended.” Read more about this groundbreaking collection in the overview, and order Deaf Learners today.

CHOICE magazine also praised Hearing Difference: The Third Ear in Experimental, Deaf, and Multicultural Theater by interdisciplinary scholar Kanta Kochhar-Lindgren: “[S]erious scholars of Deaf studies and multiculturalism will welcome this scholarly tome, and the footnotes, references, and citations of plays, playwrights, and art critics are a gold mine. Highly recommended.” The full review is available online. Kochhar-Lindgren’s study investigates the connections between hearing and deafness in experimental, Deaf, and multicultural theater using the “third ear,” a device for cross-sensory listening of sound, silence, and the moving body. Read an excerpt from chapter two here, and order Hearing Difference here.

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