“Making meaning”: Communication between sign language users without a shared language

Zeshan, Ulrike orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-8438-3701 (2015) “Making meaning”: Communication between sign language users without a shared language. Cognitive Linguistics, 26 (2). pp. 211-260. ISSN 0936-5907

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Official URL: https://doi.org/10.1515/cog-2015-0011


In a small group of deaf sign language users from different countries and with no shared language, the signers’ initial conversational interactions are investigated as they meet in pairs for the very first time. This case study allows for a unique insight into the initial stages of pidginisation and the conceptual processes involved. The participants use a wide range of linguistic and communicative resources, and it can be argued that they construct shared multilingual-multimodal cognitive spaces for the purpose of these conversations. This research explores the nature of these shared multilingual-multimodal spaces, how they are shaped by the signers in interaction, and how they can be understood in terms of conceptual blending. The research also focuses on the meta-linguistic skills that signers use in these multilingual-multimodal interactions to “make meaning”.

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