After completing this course, students will be able to identify the unique characteristics of signed languages, to recognize bimodal bilingualism, and to identify and describe types of language contact between signed en spoken languages. In particular, after completing the course, students will be able to detect several challenging issues for families where sign language is part of their daily communication, to summarize and criticize a range of linguistic topics that are applicable to groups of bimodal bilinguals, such as code-blending and phonological cross-language activation, and to recognize and criticize a range of research methods in this field, such as corpus analysis and a range of experimental methods.
When we encounter the word ‘bilingualism’, most of us are inclined to think of two spoken languages. There are also people who master a spoken language and a signed language, also known as ‘bimodal bilinguals’. And there are people (deaf or hearing) who master two or more sign languages, in addition to one or more spoken languages.
Deaf and hearing children who have deaf parents often acquire sign language as a native language, while other people (like most sign language interpreters) acquire sign language as a second language. In this course, you will first get acquainted with sign linguistics: the lexicon, grammar and use of signed languages. We then zoom in on language contact between spoken and signed languages (including 'international sign'), look at first and second language acquisition of sign language, and at bilingual language processing. We will examine the first steps of native and non-native sign language acquisition as well as more proficient sign language use, and discuss whether there are particular (cognitive) advantages associated to bilingualism in general and bimodal bilingualism in particular.