||Form, Meaning, and Focus in American Sign Language
Sociolinguistics in Deaf Communities, Volume 19
From Reference & Research Book News
Rankin investigates the linguistic strategies that speakers of ASL use to express a meaning similar to that expressed when English speakers use the passive voice. In ASL as in other languages, various linguistic factors influence the level of focus with which entities are construed, she finds, and ASL has multiple mechanisms for achieving agent impersonalization, each resulting is a slightly different construal. Her research involved asking four native ASL speakers who were also fluent in English to translate passages in written English that contained passive constructions into ASL. She reports that the most common strategy was simply to leave the agent unexpressed, though other strategies were also used. Participants did not struggle, and were able to translate every passage easily.
Miako Villanueva is an associate professor in the Department of Linguistics at Gallaudet University.