Variations in tactile signing – the case of one-handed signing


  • Johanna Mesch



Tactile sign language is a variety of a national sign language. Tactile signing among persons with deafblindness also includes some minor variations. Early analyses of tactile Swedish Sign Language (e.g. Mesch 1998, 2001) show how interactants use both their hands in tactile communication in two different positions: dialogue position and monologue position. This paper examines the signing variations that partially or functionally blind signers encounter when using one hand to communicate with each other in a conversation dyad in what is one of the most advanced types of sign language communication. In tactile one-handed signing, the signer uses her right hand both for producing and receiving signs, while the addressee uses her left hand not only for receiving but also for producing signs after turn-taking, even though it is the non-dominant hand and, therefore, is not normally used to produce one-handed signs. In this study, conversation analysis was conducted on the discourse of four groups.The results show that some variations depend on the linguistic background of individuals and their everyday communication. A com-parative study of a two-handed and a one-handed system is then presented, focusing on issues of simplicity, flexibility, turn-taking, and feedback. Some results showing changes in the sign structures of both communication types are also presented


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How to Cite

Mesch, J. (2011). Variations in tactile signing – the case of one-handed signing. Eesti Ja Soome-Ugri Keeleteaduse Ajakiri. Journal of Estonian and Finno-Ugric Linguistics, 2(1), 273–282.