Journal Article

Constructing Simultaneous Communication: The Contributions of Natural Sign Language

C. Tane Akamatsu and David A. Stewart

in The Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education

Volume 3, issue 4, pages 302-319
Published in print January 1998 | ISSN: 1081-4159
Published online January 1998 | e-ISSN: 1465-7325 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/oxfordjournals.deafed.a014358
Constructing Simultaneous Communication: The Contributions of Natural Sign Language

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This article examines simultaneous communication (SC) by analyzing the changes in productions of teachers who underwent a program specifically designed to address improve ments in the signed modality by working with both English-based signing and American Sign Language (ASL). Based on theoretical concepts found in bilingualism, language contact situations, and conversational analysis, we focus on the process of constructing utterances by examining thp teachers' spontaneous repair sequences as evidence of an active productive system. Two teachers received special instruction in SC that included both ASL and English-based signing systems as separate but equal systems. Videotapes of their use of SC, collected over four years, were analyzed for sign/speech ratio and repair sequences. Repairs were classified as repetitions, replacements, or synchronization. We found that the sign/speech ratio of both teachers increased over time. Examination of repair sequences showed that repetitions tended to occur in speech with the sign channel more completely encoded in the repair. Changes in speech tended to be accompanied by changes in sign. Errors in synchrony were relatively rare. We conclude that the simultaneous communication of both teachers was speech-driven, but error detection was largely sign-driven. The greater the automaticity of both languages, the more attention could be devoted to monitoring the coordination of the two modalities. The amount and quality of monitoring that actually occurred, however, were subject to individual differences.

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Subjects: Education ; Linguistics ; Teaching of Specific Groups and Special Educational Needs

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