Hilde Haualand, Patrick Kermit, Johan Hjulstad
Where can I sign my language?
There is an increasing legal recognition of sign languages as legitimate languages in multilingual communities, and several countries have also passed legislation that regulates the right or opportunity to education in sign language for deaf and hard of hearing children. Paradoxically, the formal recognition of sign languages picked up speed almost at the same time as the decline of the deaf schools started. Today, education in sign language is often “solved” by providing a teacher or interpreter who knows (some) sign language, for a single deaf or hard of hearing student in a hearing class room, where few, if any of the other students also learn sign language. Since approximately 95% of deaf children are born into families where none of the parents know sign language in advance, acquisition of and socializing in sign language must happen outside the family. One cannot take for granted that signing children and adolescents actually have access to arenas where they can access a vital aspect of language acquisition, namely the ability to use sign language for communication, or engage in sign languaging with others. The presentation is based on a literature review (Haualand, Kermit & Hjulstad, in progress) of Nordic studies from 2000 to 2019 addressing the question of children’s and adolescent’s access to arenas, spaces or contexts where they can sign with other peers and adults. The review revealed that the Nordic sign languages are legally recognized and publicly supported in unprecedented ways. On the other hand, the practical aspects of what it means to securing spaces, places and contexts where sign languaging is spontaneous and natural, seem to be neglected by researchers as well as policy makers.
International Sign as translingual practice
International Sign is a sign language based linguistic border-crossing phenomenon. The form of International Sign (IS) is variable and dependent on the context in which it occurs and on the linguistic repertoire of participants; it is a translingual practice. This presentation explores International Sign in face-to-face interactions and in small groups, such as during meals, games, sports, break times, and small group discussions. In these contexts, people may use signs which are widely used in International Sign as well as signs from different national sign languages, all of which they may learn on the spot. They may sign “more visually” by which is meant the use of transparent signing, use of spatial grammar, and pantomime. People may use objects, pictures and translation apps on mobile phones.
Within IS, spoken language elements can be used too: people use fingerspelling and mouthing, and engage in practices of “chaining” eg. by offering an English word via fingerspelling and then offering one or more equivalent signs. While the use of fingerspelling and mouthing may be helpful, they also can prevent understanding and hamper communication. If some strategies do not work, people use repair strategies such as offering other signs, repeating, or paraphrasing. People adapt their strategies when the use of the eyes, fingers, mouth or hands are not available to them or their interlocutors, such as in the events of being blind, having the use of only one hand, wearing a burqa, or wearing mittens.
In non-dyadic interactions, interlocutors engage in language brokering (informal interpreting), and interrupt when they see others misunderstanding each other. The practices of using, learning, and understanding IS all go hand in hand in this process. These practices are studied within the context of a complex set of language ideologies that circulates regarding the use of all the abovementioned resources and strategies, such as on the ratio and role of facial expressions, iconicity and gestures, signs from American Sign Language (ASL) and words from English in IS.
Conviviality or exclusion? A tale of two multilingualisms
Exploring translingualism in Roman Gaul
Advances in Graeco-Roman multilingualism over the past two decades have been driven by converging elements: intensive work on non-classical languages (e.g. Hesperia, Ancient European Languages and Writings, RIIG); sustained interest in Graeco-Roman epigraphy on all media, including ‘small finds’ (for example, graffiti on ceramic); increased sophistication in the treatment of language contact phenomena; and the application of the findings in historical context (Crossreads, LatinNow). Our evidence is in many respects very different from that of modern multilingualism and we continue to develop interdisciplinary methodologies to tackle our partial and problematic remains from multiple sources (linguistic, epigraphic, archaeological, historical and literary).
An issue that has not been sufficiently addressed is whether our standard analytical frameworks, taken from bilingualism studies of the 1980s and 90s and embedded in Classics through Adams’ influential Bilingualism and the Latin Language (2003), should be refreshed. Our multilingual ancient texts often resist straightforward classification within our current system and the practices that they appear to reflect underscore the contextual specificities of the complexities of everyday life, making generalizations problematic. Texts which are highly ‘mixed’, comprising what linguists might regard as separate languages, for example Gaulish, the Celtic language of Gaul, and Latin, may represent contexts as divergent as the merging of texts of different linguistic make-up into composite documents in the administration of a pottery production centre (La Graufesenque) or playful negotiation of a flexible linguistic repertoire in an all-female in-group context (Autun). We have struggled to describe and make sense of these texts from Roman Gaul.
One way to move forward is to confront the tensions in different scholarly analyses and to consider how anachronistic assumptions about language may affect our interpretations. It is important to question the nature of the relationships between languages and identities in the ancient world and how local communities and individuals in Roman Gaul might have conceived of their linguistic repertoires. In exploring the realities of linguistic experience in Gaul we have found that the concept of translingualism – which puts a focus on the fluidity and complexity of linguistic repertoires and encourages us to think beyond bounded linguistic entities such as standard languages – helps us to understand multilingual texts and their contexts.
Legal and linguistic aspects of institutional multilingualism in the European Union
The motto of the European Union “United in Diversity” expresses the respect and support for different European cultures, traditions and languages. The paper will discuss various aspects of the multilingual policies of the EU from a historical and comparative perspective. In the introduction, parallels will be drawn with other multilingual policies on the national and international level. Some examples of historical multilingual policies will be presented, notably the Habsburg Monarchy whose language policies have often been compared to the EU. The differences between the EU official languages and working languages on the institutional level will be discussed. In addition, the processes of co-drafting, legal translation, and revision will be presented, as well as various issues involved in the creation and consistent use of EU multilingual legal terminology. Educational policies promoting multilingualism in an effort to counter the dominance of English as the global language and the European lingua franca will be discussed, as well as the protection of minority and immigrant languages in the EU. In addition to positive aspects of multilingualism, some of the challenges will also be discussed. Namely, languages can act as barriers to workers’ mobility, limiting access to cross-border public services as well as citizens’ participation in the political process, and creating fragmented markets for cross-border trade. Ways to overcome such barriers will be discussed.
Diachronic text corpus from ancient multilingual setting: the case of Greek in Egypt
Between the invasions of Alexander the Great (332 BCE) and the Arabs (639–646 CE) the Nile valley in Egypt witnessed the spread of several ”new” languages within its inhabitable zone. Greek was the most widely used and durable, but nonetheless its presence was unbalanced and unequal in respect for geography, time and population groups. The relationship between the historical reality of language use and our image of it, is not straightforward either, because our sources are incomplete, as historical sources usually are. A multitude of written sources still give us a rich image of multilingual Egypt where Egyptian, Greek, Latin, Aramaic, Arabic and other languages were used in written communication. In this talk, I will dissect the corpus of Greek documentary papyri, a mass of over 50,000 texts that have survived directly from the Egyptian sand. We get to plunge into the pool of private letters, business correspondence, different types of contracts, receipts, invitations, and the like. The texts come from diverse linguistic surroundings and from L1 and L2 speakers, and they have often been written down by a scribe or an official, but occasionally also by the hand of the author. I will discuss how we can study this corpus from different linguistic viewpoints and what kind of knowledge we can gain about the development and impact of Greek in the multilingual setting of Egypt for the almost thousand-year time span when it was the official language in the country.