To the Lexicon
and Beyond: Sociolinguistics in European Deaf Communities|
All of the interviewees could sign and had not the slightest qualms about
signing. When asked, for instance, whether they had ever been embarrassed to use
sign language or felt prevented from signing, interviewees commented as follows:
Never! I am open, and I donít care what others think about it. If they make fun
of us I will tell them off! (male, twenty-four, language with hearing oral, with
I ignore what other people think of us. I just carry on signing away. . . . It
is okay with me. (female, twenty-one, BSL)
Never! I am proud of it. (female, twenty, with Deaf BSL, hearing SSE and oral,
but likes all)9
Never! Never! (male, twenty-four, BSL)
I have never been stopped using sign language. It is my language. I am Deaf and
it is my language. . . . Put my hands down and I canít do this! I will continue
using sign language. It is my language. (female, twenty-two, speak)10
Despite some views apparently staunchly in favor of signing and no evidence that
some situations were considered in principle ďoff limitsĒ for signed
interaction, interviewees nevertheless expressed considerable openness to making
communicative adjustments in interaction. Some of this flexibility is overtly
recorded, too, in their descriptions of their linguistic identities.
Some interviewees explicitly marked signing and speaking situations, with the
Deaf or hearing nature of the interlocutors seen as the deciding factor:
If my Deaf friend is with me, then I sign to help her follow the conversation,
but if itís with a hearing person then I talk. (female, twenty-seven, sign
Interviewer: Did you have an interview for entry to your work experience?
Interviewer: How did you communicate with the panel at the interview?
Interviewer: Were you happy with this?
Interviewee: Probably because there was a deaf person there. (female,
twenty-seven, mainly nonsigning)