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Sociolinguistics: Registers

  • By: Christiane Hohenstein & Patty Shores
  • In: The SAGE Deaf Studies Encyclopedia
  • Edited by: Genie Gertz & Patrick Boudreault
  • Subject:Physical Disabilities, Otorhinolaryngology (Ears, Nose, & Throat)

The term register has been used for more than four decades now in linguistics, in order to describe and analyze stylistic and functional variation in language use. It is a concept deeply ingrained in sign language instruction for more than 30 years. In teaching sign languages, the most influential models have been those proposed in the 1960s and 1970s by Martin Joos, Charles Ferguson, and Michael A. K. Halliday, respectively. These models are discussed in light of critical issues regarding sign languages (SLs). Until today, the conceptions and applications of “register” in SL teaching and SL linguistics vary widely and are not researched well enough in order to be grasped easily by SL learners. This holds especially for second-language (L2) learning, given that roughly two-thirds ...

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