Unimodal bilingualism in the Deaf community: Language contact between two sign languages in Australia and the United Kingdom

Autor/a: ADAM, Robert
Año: 2016
Editorial: University College London
Tipo de código: Copyright
Soporte: Digital


Lingüística » Lingüística de otras Lenguas de Signos, Lingüística


Little is known about unimodal sign bilingualism: whether it resembles unimodal (spoken) bilingualism, or bimodal (spoken and signed) bilingualism, or whether it has unique qualities. This study is the first to examine this topic through a study of bilingualism in two Deaf communities in which dialects of unrelated languages: British Sign Language (BSL) and Irish Sign Language (ISL) are used. The research looks at previously unexplored aspects of code-blending and code-mixing, and compares the data with data on bimodal bilingualism (in a signed and a spoken language) and unimodal bilingualism (in two spoken languages) with a combination of experimental and naturalistic data. The experimental study used a picture naming task. Eleven participants were asked to name pictures as quickly as possible, and response latencies were analysed. It was found that there was indeed a switching cost, which did not appear to be asymmetrical. There was also a cognate facilitation effect. The second part of the study was based on interviews with bilinguals. As well as phenomena already described for unimodal spoken language bilingualism, including code-switching and code mixing, the study reports on mouthing, where spoken mouth patterns (in this case English) are produced simultaneously with manual signs. These are usually considered examples of code-blending, reflecting active mixing of two languages. This study provides an initial understanding of how modality interacts with bilingualism and suggests the need for further explorations.