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Cognitive Linguistics

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Volume 26, Issue 2


Co-forming real space blends in tactile signed language dialogues

Johanna MeschORCID iD: http://orcid.org/0000-0002-0612-6304 / Eli RaanesORCID iD: http://orcid.org/0000-0002-2009-8872 / Lindsay FerraraORCID iD: http://orcid.org/0000-0003-3679-3404
Published Online: 2015-02-25 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/cog-2014-0066


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.

Keywords: tactile signed language; Norwegian Sign Language; Swedish Sign Language; blending; meaning construction


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About the article

Johanna Mesch

Johanna Mesch, PhD, is deaf, and works as an Associate Professor in sign language linguistics and Head of the Sign Language Section of the Department of Linguistics, Stockholm University. Her PhD research focused on conversations of deafblind people in tactile Swedish Sign Language. During 2009-2011, she was the principal investigator for a three-year project to set up a corpus of Swedish Sign Language, financed by a grant from Riksbankens Jubileumsfond. Her research interests include tactile sign language of deafblind people, cross-linguistic comparison of signed languages, signed poetry, and corpus-based studies.

Eli Raanes

Eli Raanes is a signed language linguist who works with interpreting issues, language acquisition and language variation. She is a registered interpreter for the deaf and deafblind in Noway, and her PhD research focused on Norwegian Tactile Sign Language. She has also worked with signed language and interpreter education curriculum development for many years and has been involved the development of the interpreter profession in Norway. She currently is an associate professor at Sør-Trøndelag University College in the program of Sign Language and Interpreter Training.

Lindsay Ferrara

Lindsay Ferrara is a signed language linguist with interests in cognitive grammar, cognitive semiotics, and multi-modal interaction and communication. She has international experience in the field of signed language research, having completed her Masters degree in the USA focusing on the linguistics of American Sign Language, and then continuing on with her PhD in linguistics at Macquarie University looking at the distribution of depicting signs in Auslan (the signed language used in Australia). More recently, she has moved to Norway to join Sør-Trøndelag University College as an associate professor in the program of Sign Language and Interpreter Training.

Received: 2014-09-01

Revised: 2014-12-05

Accepted: 2014-12-19

Published Online: 2015-02-25

Published in Print: 2015-05-01

Citation Information: Cognitive Linguistics, Volume 26, Issue 2, Pages 261–287, ISSN (Online) 1613-3641, ISSN (Print) 0936-5907, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/cog-2014-0066.

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