Metaphor in American Sign Language

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9781563680991: Metaphor in American Sign Language
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Only recently have linguists ceased to regard metaphors as mere frills on the periphery of language and begun to recognize them as corner-stones of discourse. Phyllis Wilcox takes this innovation one step further in her fascinating treatise Metaphor in American Sign Language.
Such an inquiry has long been obscured by, as Wilcox calls it, "the shroud of iconicity." American Sign Language's iconic nature once discouraged people from recognising it as a language; more recently it has served to confuse linguists examining its metaphors. Wilcox, however, presents methods for distinguishing between icon and metaphor, allowing the former to clarify, not cloud, the latter. As she explains, "If the iconic influence that surrounds metaphor is set aside, the results will be greater understanding and interpretations that are less opaque."
Wilcox concludes her study with a close analysis of the American Sign Language poem, "The Dogs," by Ella Mae Lentz. In presenting Deaf Americans', Deaf Germans', and Deaf Italians' reactions to the poem, Wilcox manages not only to demonstrate the influence of culture upon metaphors, but also to illuminate the sources of socio-political division within the American Deaf community. Metaphor in American Sign Language proves an engrossing read for those interested in linguistics and Deaf culture alike.

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About the Author:

Phyllis Perrin Wilcox is Associate Professor of Linguistics and Coordinator of the Signed Language Interpreting Program at the University of New Mexico, in Albuquerque, NM.

Review:

Wilcox outlines a fresh way of examining ASL signs and meaning. She has added to our understanding of sign languages and of interrelationships among language, cultural life, and the life of the mind.

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