Sign Language Contact

David Quinto-Pozos and Robert Adam

in The Oxford Handbook of Sociolinguistics

Published in print January 2013 | ISBN: 9780199744084
Published online January 2013 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

Sign Language Contact


This chapter argues that language contact is the norm in Deaf communities, and that deaf people are typically multilingual. They use signed, written, and, in some cases, spoken languages for daily communication, which means that aspects of the spoken and/or written languages of the larger communities are in constant interaction with the signed languages. If one considers the contact that results from users of two different signed languages interacting, various comparisons can be made to contact that occurs across two or more spoken languages. The term unimodal contact, or that which comes about because of two languages within the same modality, can be used to characterize such contact. However, if one considers the contact that results from interaction between a signed and a spoken or written language, the term bimodal (or even multimodal) contact is more appropriate.

Keywords: language modality; Deaf communities; signed languages; unimodal contact; bimodal contact; visual-gestural modality

Article.  9365 words. 

Subjects: Linguistics ; Sociolinguistics

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