Analysing Sign Language Poetry by R. Sutton-Spence

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By R. Sutton-Spence

This new examine is an enormous contribution to signal language examine and to literature often, taking a look at the advanced grammatical, phonological and morphological structures of signal language linguistic constitution and their position in signal language poetry and function. Chapters take care of repetition and rhyme, symmetry and stability, neologisms, ambiguity, topics, metaphor and allusion, poem and function, and mixing English and signal language poetry. significant poetic performances in either BSL and ASL - with emphasis at the paintings of the deaf poet Dorothy Miles - are analysed utilizing the instruments supplied within the ebook.

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Although sign language poetry has its roots in the Deaf community, it has not emerged as a community-driven force. Instead, it has come from very few, often well-educated, individuals of varied social, educational and language backgrounds within the community (as art forms often do in any society). 2 Without these few individuals, there would be no sign language poetry. Clayton Valli saw the need to ‘introduce ASL poetry to the Deaf Community’ (1993: p. 11), with the clear implication that poetry was not yet a community event.

This deviation creates ‘foregrounding’. The language norms (and other norms of social expectation) are challenged by the poem so that the deviation stands out (or comes to the foreground) from the background of normal language. In other words, we notice poetic language because it is odd. The foregrounding serves to increase the significance of the poem. As poetry is ‘an aesthetically purposeful distortion of standard language’ (Freeman, 1970: p. 7), the language in poems deliberately distorts the rules of standard language in a creative way, in order for the language to be noticed.

Meanwhile, the letters forming the initialisation handshapes of each sign spell out ‘Deaf education fails’: DOCTOR EVALUATE AGGRESSIVE FIDDLE-WITH-EAR-TO-FIX-IT (not an initialised sign, but using an ‘F’ handshape) ELEMENTARY-SCHOOL DISCRIMINATION USE CONCEPT ABSTRACT THEORY IDEAS OPINIONS NO FAMILY AGGRESSIVE ISOLATED BIG-EGO (not an initialised sign but using an ‘L’ handshape) SOCIETY This is a particularly pointed use of initialised signs and handshapes normally reserved for representing English, as English and the manual alphabet are major tools of educators of Deaf children.

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