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Sign Language Studies

American Annals of the Deaf

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To the Lexicon and Beyond: Sociolinguistics in European Deaf Communities

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Interviewees also showed a relatively uncomplicated willingness to engage in written communication if they feel it is necessary:

When I meet a hearing person I will try and use my voice and talk to them. . . . If they donít understand, you can always write on paper and give it to them. (female, twenty-two, speak)

If the information is important and I need to know it, I would ask them to write it downóbetter than not having a conversation at all! . . . I have BSL, and the other person has spoken English, so pen and paper means we meet in the middle. (male, twenty-four, BSL)

It depends on the person; if they can sign, I will use it. But if the person canít sign, I will use oral language. If they still donít understand, I will use writing. . . . I want to understand the conversation. (female, twenty, with Deaf BSL, hearing SSE and oral but likes all)

Some interviewees declared that they had no particular communication preference:

Well I prefer them both (speech or sign). . . . I am not critical of either because it depends [on] who I am communicating with. If they sign to me, I sign back. If they talk to me, Iíll talk backóitís equal. If they want to sign, Iíll sign, so it depends. (male, twenty-one, sign language user)

Interviewer: What would be your preferred communication method?
Interviewee: No preference. (female, twenty-seven, mainly nonsigning)

Finally, when asked which language groups they would prefer to be in, some interviewees demonstrated a notable degree of flexibility and a very unconcerned, matter-of-fact approach to making communicative adjustments:

It doesnít bother me: I just go along and learn from them. (male, twenty-four, with hearing oral, with Deaf signing)

I like all the groups because some of my friends are oral, SSE, and BSL, and I can fit into all the groups. (female, 20, with Deaf BSL, hearing SSE and oral, but likes all)

I feel fine to be part of those two groups (sign and speech users). I can communicate with both of them and can introduce them to each other. (male, twenty-three, oral most of the time)


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