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ASL or contact signing: Issues of judgment1

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 January 2009

Ceil Lucas
Affiliation:
Department of Linguistics and Interpreting, Gallaudet University
Clayton Valli
Affiliation:
Department of Linguistics and Interpreting, Gallaudet University

Abstract

This article reports on one aspect of an ongoing study of language contact in the American deaf community. A kind of signing that results from the contact between American Sign Language (ASL) and English exhibits features of both languages. The ultimate goal of the study is a linguistic description of contact signing and a reexamination of claims that it is a pidgin. Ten dyads and two triads of native ASL signers (6 white dyads, 4 black dyads, 2 black triads) were videotaped with a deaf interviewer, a hearing interviewer, and alone with each other. The different interview situations induced switching between ASL and contact signing. This article (1) reviews the pattern of language use during the interviews with the white dyads and describes the judgments of selected videotaped segments by 10 native signers; (2) examines the role of demographic information in judgments. For each segment, half of the judges were given one set of demographic information, and the other half were given another set. Indications are that this information does affect judgment, even though the linguistic forms viewed were identical. (American Sign Language, language contact, language judgments, deaf community)

Type
Articles
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1991

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