Shadows and Mirrors: Spatial and Ideological Perspectives on Sign Language Competency
In introducing the concept of "shadow conversations," Judith T. Irvine (1996) sharpened our analytical understanding of instances in which conjectures about past and future moments in a chain of discourse events inform the distribution of participant roles in an unfolding interaction. Expanding upon this notion, this article considers how conversations that did or will not occur-or are imagined as having not occurred-can equally function as shadows that inform how unfolding interactions, and the participant roles entailed in their enactment, are understood. I analyze an exchange conducted in Maltese Sign Language (LSM), in which my status as a novice LSM signer led to a series of misunderstandings and repairs. In addition to illustrating the shadows cast by significant non-occurrences, the interaction and its mix-ups highlight the intersection of spatial and social forms of perspective taking. My analysis of the shadows that shaped interactive failure and success demonstrate the power of Irvine's analytical tools to connect the material, embodied details of a particular interactive moment to complex interdiscursive chains and language ideological perspectives.
Hoffmann-Dilloway, Erika. 2021. "Shadows and Mirrors: Spatial and Ideological Perspectives on Sign Language Competency." Journal of Linguistic Anthropology 31(3): 320-334.
Journal of Linguistic Anthropology
Shadow conversations, Language ideologies, Sign languages, Deaf sociality, Malta