Title

Shadows and Mirrors: Spatial and Ideological Perspectives on Sign Language Competency

Abstract

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.

Publisher

Wiley

Publication Date

12-1-2021

Publication Title

Journal of Linguistic Anthropology

Department

Anthropology

Document Type

Article

DOI

10.1111/jola.12344

Keywords

Shadow conversations, Language ideologies, Sign languages, Deaf sociality, Malta

Language

English

Format

text

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