What can sign language tell us about human understanding?
The ability to communicate with others is one the most basic and powerful tools we have as humans. Communication can only be successful when there is mutual understanding between people in conversation. Problems of understanding have been studied in a range of disciplines, especially in spoken languages. Yet whatever the modality being used, all language users are faced with the challenge of maintaining and achieving mutual understanding in their everyday informal conversations.
Bodily language, facial and manual gestures, as well as eye contact have been shown to play a fundamental role in communication. Elizabeth Manrique examined the direct and indirect strategies that sign language users display when facing difficulties in signing, seeing and understanding. Manrique’s thesis contributes to our knowledge of human understanding by offering an in-depth empirical study of Argentine Sign Language (LSA). Advancing our knowledge of the visual and gestural communicative strategies that accompany breakdowns in conversation does not only have theoretical, but also educational and therapeutic relevance, especially nowadays since our communicational demands are changing rapidly due to the intense role technology plays in our social face-to-face interactions.
- Elizabeth Manrique will defend her thesis on Friday, April 7th at 12.30 at the Aula of the Radboud University.
- The thesis appears in the MPI Series in Psycholinguistics (no 119).