Volume 36, Issue 1
  • ISSN 0774-5141
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9676



A large body of research has highlighted the tight, carefully organised temporal coordination of interaction. When taking turns, people tend to minimise the occurrence of gaps and overlaps (Sacks, Schegloff, and Jefferson 1974). Within the field of signed language linguistics, however, there is an ongoing debate: while some researchers claim that signers orient to a ‘one-speaker-at-a-time’ principle (McCleary and Leite 2013) as found in spoken conversation, others argue that signed language interactions allow for more overlapping turns, displaying a more collaborative floor in their turn-taking mechanics (Coates and Sutton-Spence 2001). The current paper aims at contributing to this discussion by providing a first cross-linguistic, systematic account of the manifestation of overlap in two signed languages, namely LSFB (French Belgian Sign Language) and VGT (Flemish Sign Language). We analysed simultaneous signing in 2 hours of dyadic face-to-face conversations. This paper combines a quantitative account of the turn timing and thus frequency counts of overlap in VGT and LSFB interactions with a more fine-grained qualitative analysis of the interactional, i.e., sequential environment, in which overlap occurs and the strategies deployed to accomplish overlap resolution by deaf participants. In doing so, this paper sheds further light on the orderliness of signed conversation, and ultimately contributes to a better understanding of the semiotic complexity of multimodal interaction management across language ecologies (Ferrara and Hodge 2018).

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