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  • Author: N. Ferrara x
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Previous studies on perspective in spatial signed language descriptions suggest a basic dichotomy between either a route or a survey perspective, which entails either the signer being conceptualized as a mobile agent within a life-sized scene or the signer in a fixed position as an external observer of a scaled-down scene. We challenge this dichotomy by investigating the particular couplings of vantage point position and mobility engaged during various types of spatial language produced across eight naturalistic conversations in Norwegian Sign Language. Spatial language was annotated for the purpose of the segment, the size of the environment described, the signs produced, and the location and mobility of vantage points. Analysis revealed that survey and route perspectives, as characterized in the literature, do not adequately account for the range of vantage point combinations observed in conversations (e.g., external, but mobile, vantage points). There is also some preliminary evidence that the purpose of the spatial language and the size of the environments described may also play a role in how signers engage vantage points. Finally, the study underscores the importance of investigating spatial language within naturalistic conversational contexts.


This article reports on a linguistic study examining the use of real space blending in the tactile signed languages of Norwegian and Swedish signers who are both deaf and blind. Tactile signed languages are typically produced by interactants in contact with each other’s hands while signing. Of particular interest to this study are utterances which not only consist of the signer producing signs with his or her own hands (or other body parts), but which also recruit the other interactant’s hands (or another body part). These utterances, although perhaps less frequent, are co-constructed, in a very real sense, and they illustrate meaning construction during emerging, embodied discourse. Here, we analyze several examples of these types of utterances from a cognitive linguistic and cognitive semiotic perspective to explore how interactants prompt meaning construction through touch and the involvement of each other’s bodies during a particular type of co-regulation.