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Sign Language Studies

American Annals of the Deaf

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Storytelling and Conversation
Discourse in Deaf Communities

Elizabeth A. Winston, Editor

Now in Paperback!

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The Fifth Volume in the Sociolinguistics in Deaf Communities Series

From Studies in Second Language Acquisition

In this latest volume of the Sociolinguistics in Deaf Communities Series, Winston has included not only discourse analysis of American Sign Language (ASL) but also of sign languages native to Bali, Italy, and England. She offers a fascinating look at the “intricate discourse patterns that have evolved in different languages” (p. ix). Her work should be required reading for all teachers of sign language as well as teachers of interpreters. This book will also appeal to sociolinguists; language use in the community is clearly the overriding theme.

       The scope of this book is an ambitious undertaking by Winston, and the result is quite enlightening. Part 1 presents investigations into “the ways that signers shape their messages, creating cohesion and coherence” (p. ix), and part 2 addresses the “external context of language use” (p. x) by analyzing the use of language in communities. The final two papers “tie the internal and the external contexts together” (p. x); one analyzes the use of ASL when teaching written English to Deaf students and the other analyzes the language choices made by an interpreter attempting to manage the “interpreter’s paradox” (p. x).

       The issues presented here are universal but the specific approach to discussing these issues, through the eye of a sign language user, is unique. The groundbreaking analysis of language mixing between parents who use Italian Sign Language and their children who speak Italian is relevant to language-contact studies in other communities. The Bali example of integrating the language of a subcommunity into the majority’s religious and community life is a fascinating sociolinguistic phenomenon. The impact of technology on communication has relevance for us all, although especially for the increasing number of us who use a relay system to access text telephones. And the “interpreter’s paradox,” although especially relevant for the field of sign language interpretation, takes the overseer’s paradox one step further. These issues, and others in this volume, are addressed in a new light, from a slightly different perspective, and are of interest to any of us involved in language education.

Christine Monikowski, National Technical Institute for the Deaf at Rochester Institute of Technology

Elizabeth A. Winston is the director of the Teaching Interpreting Educators and Mentors (TIEM) Center in Loveland, CO, where she directs research into interpreter education practices, discourse analysis, assessment, and evaluation.

ISBN 978-1-56368-531-6, ISSN 1080-5494, 6 x 9 paperback, 240 pages, references, index


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