Spatial Strategies in Descriptive Discourse: Use of Signing Space in Swedish Sign Language

Autor/a: NILSSON, Ana-Lena
Año: 2008
Editorial: Dublín: Trinity College, Centre for Deaf Studies, 2008
Tipo de código: Copyright
Soporte: Digital


Traducción e Interpretación, Lingüística » Lingüística de otras Lenguas de Signos


The aim of the present study is to investigate the use of signing space, especially the potential relationship between the structure and function of the discourse. Data comes from a ten minute long, descriptive Swedish Sign Language monologue, where the signer retells parts of an autobiography. A native signer, who has not read the book, is sitting next to the camera as the addressee. This video recording was originally made for testing the interpreting skills of a group of professional sign language interpreters, and the signer did not know at the time that her signing would be the object of analysis. As the book she has read has both a main character and several other animate referents, the discourse contains frequent reference to these persons, and to their feelings, opinions, actions, and interactions. The general theoretical framework is that of Cognitive Linguistics, in particular Real Space blending (Liddell, 2003). The discourse is characterized by a complex interaction between discourse content and the signer’s use of signing space. Providing background and orienting material regarding the author, the signer uses the area to her left for meaningfully directed signs. In contrast, rendering the life of the author, as described in the book, the area in front of the signer is used for meaningfully directed signs. In sequences told from narrator’s perspective, in which signs are typically directed to the left, token blends dominate. In sequences with rapid switching between narrator’s perspective and discourse character’s perspective, signs are directed forward. Such sequences also abound with rapid switching between token blends and surrogate blends. Moreover, in token spaces containing more than one token, the tokens are frequently stacked in one area in signing space, rather than on opposite sides. Surrogates turn out to be used not only for constructed dialogue, but also for constructed action and thought, even for referents that are non-specific. The functionality of indexing in this discourse will also be discussed in some detail in this volume.