Volume 36, Issue 1
  • ISSN 0774-5141
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9676
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Language is complex in many respects. When conceived as a system that is to be analysed at all levels of linguistic structure, it is interpreted as a static and abstract phenomenon in which the rules are disconnected from their context of use. However, the ability to do language, construed as a fundamentally social practice grounded in our face-to-face interactions, does not exclusively rely on knowing the rules that govern the grammatical principles in a given language, nor does it limit itself to understanding the lexical content of utterances. Language is more than that; it is fundamentally social and inherently multimodal in that it enables all humans to create, express, and construe meaningful utterances through their bodies. For a long time, however, linguistic theories have neglected to consider the diverse and rich ways humans language using their bodies. In this introduction, particular attention is paid to the different roles the body plays across a range of distinct sign languages and contexts. In that respect, a short historical detour into the evolutive stages of sign language research is provided first. Next, the aims and the different contributions of this volume are outlined. Finally, some conclusions are drawn.


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  • Article Type: Introduction
Keyword(s): gesture studies; semiotics; sign language corpora; sign language linguistics
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