Sign-speaking: The structure of simultaneous bimodal utterances

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Zeshan, U ; Panda, S (2017)

We present data from a bimodal trilingual situation involving Indian Sign Language (ISL), Hindi and English. Signers are co-using these languages while in group conversations with deaf people and hearing non-signers. The data show that in this context, English is an embedded language that does not impact on the grammar of the utterances, while both ISL and Hindi structures are realised throughout. The data show mismatches between the simultaneously expressed ISL and Hindi, such that semantic content and/or syntactic structures are different in both languages, yet are produced at the same time. The data also include instances of different propositions expressed simultaneously in the two languages. This under-documented behaviour is called “sign-speaking” here, and we explore its implications for theories of multilingualism, code-switching, and bilingual language production.
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