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Teckenspråk i taktil form: Turtagning och frågor i dövblindas samtal på teckenspråk
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Linguistics. Avdelningen för teckenspråk.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-0612-6304
1998 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The present study focuses on turn-taking and questions in conversations between deaf-blind persons using tactile sign language, i.e. communicating by holding each others hands, and how sign language utterances change in the tactile mode when the nonmanual signals characteristic of turntaking and interrogative sentences in (visual) sign language are not used. The material consists of six video-recorded conversations (four with deaf-blind pairs and two where one person is deaf and one is deaf-blind). Parts of the material, viz. 168 sequences with questions and answers, has been transcribed and analyzed.

The analysis shows that deaf-blind signers use their hands in two different conversation positions. In the monologue position both the signer's hands are held under the hands of the listener, whereas in the dialogue position both participants hold their hands in identical ways: the right hand under the other person's left hand and the left hand on top of the other person's right hand. It is described how the two positions affect the structure of one- and twohanded signs and how back channeling, linguistic as well as non-linguistic (with different kinds of tapping), is used in the two positions.

The analysis shows that differences in the vertical and the horizontal planes are used in turn-taking regulation. Using four different conversational levels the signer can signal e.g. turn change by lowering his/her hands from the turn level to the turn change level at the end of his/her turn. The horizontal plane is devided into three different turn zones. The turn holder uses his/her own turn zone close to the body and finishes the turn by moving the hands to the joint zone midway between the interlocutors or into the listener's zone.

The analyzed utterances function as questions, yes/no-questions (82) as well as wh-questions (55). It is hypothesized that yes/no-questions are marked with the manual signal extended duration of the last sign of the utterance, one of the interrogative signals of visual signing, but this was only true for 46 % of the yes/no-questions in the material. Since extended duration of the last sign also signals turn change in e.g. statements it is not regarded as an interrogative signal. Additional markers of yes/no-questions are among others the sign INDEX-adr ('you') with its variant INDEX-adr-long, used as a summons signal, and repetitions of signs or sentences. As for the wh-questions a majority are made with a manual wh-sign. Generally, if there are no interrogative signals the context and the content of the utterance will account for its interpretation as a question.

To avoid misunderstandings, questions and non-linguistic signals are used in checking turns, where the signer requests back channeling or the listener requests repetition or clarification.


Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Institutionen för lingvistik, Stockholms universitet , 1998. , 235 p.
Keyword [en]
Deaf-blind, tactile sign language, conversation analysis, turn-taking, question
National Category
General Language Studies and Linguistics
Research subject
Sign Language
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-32664ISBN: 91-7153-766-XOAI: diva2:281287
Public defence
1998-05-29, hörsal 10, hus E, Universitetsvägen 10, Stockholm, 00:00 (Undetermined)

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Available from: 2009-12-15 Created: 2009-12-15 Last updated: 2014-05-26Bibliographically approved

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