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In American Sign Language (ASL), fingerspelling is often used to represent English proper nouns, technical words, or other concepts that have yet to be lexicalized. Conversely, in Hong Kong Sign Language (HKSL), fingerspelling is used on a very limited basis.

As a result, sign language interpreters in Hong Kong who work from Cantonese to HKSL frequently report difficulty in relaying concepts for which a conventionalized sign has not yet been developed.

This research proposes to engage with the Hong Kong deaf community to investigate this issue. Translation data will be collected from deaf bilinguals in Hong Kong who are recognized for their work with translating and interpreting between deaf monolinguals and the hearing society.

Research participants will translate written Chinese materials in either of these two settings:

  • A monologic environment where no specific audience is present;
  • An environment where a deaf audience with a specific background and relationship with the deaf translator is present.

Qualitative data will be collected pre-, mid-, and post-task.

The aim of this research is to produce a taxonomy of discourse strategies that are used by the deaf translators and to characterize the cognitive processes that underlie the strategies.

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Examining how Deaf translators negotiate concepts that are not conventionalized in Hong Kong Sign Language

Helen Thumann



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