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The Linguistics of British Sign Language


  • 368 b/w illus.
  • Page extent: 324 pages
  • Size: 228 x 152 mm
  • Weight: 0.64 kg

Library of Congress

  • Dewey number: 419
  • Dewey version: 21
  • LC Classification: HV2474 .S97 1999
  • LC Subject headings:
    • British Sign Language--Handbooks, manuals, etc
    • Sign language--Study and teaching
    • Deaf--Means of communication--Great Britain

Library of Congress Record


 (ISBN-13: 9780521631426 | ISBN-10: 0521631424)

This is the first detailed explanation of the way British Sign Language works and is the product of many years' experience of research and teaching sign linguistics to deaf and hearing people. It assumes no previous knowledge of linguistics or sign language, and is not structured around traditional headings such as phonology, morphology and syntax. Instead it is set out in such a way as to help learners and their teachers understand the linguistic principles behind the language. There are sections on BSL grammar and also on the use of BSL, including social acceptability in signing, variation, and poetry and humour in BSL. Technical terms and linguistic jargon are kept to a minimum, and the text contains many examples from English, BSL, and other spoken and sign languages. The book is amply illustrated and contains exercises, as well as a reading list for further study. An accompanying 90-minute DVD is available from Talk With Sign Books. To find out more, visit

• The first book dealing exclusively and in depth with the linguistics of British Sign Language • It assumes no previous knowledge of linguistics or of British Sign Language • It contains over three hundred illustrations


Conventions used in the text; 1. Linguistics and sign linguistics; 2. BSL in its social context; 3. Constructing sign sentences; 4. Questions and negation; 5. Mouth patterns and non-manual features in BSL; 6. Morphology and morphemes in BSL; 7. Aspect, manner and mood; 8. Space types and verb types in BSL; 9. The structure of gestures and signs; 10. Visual motivation and metaphor; 11. The established and productive lexicons; 12. Borrowing and naming signs; 13. Socially unacceptable signs; 14. Extended use of language in BSL; Table of illustrations; Index; Index of signs; Bibliography.

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