Cross-Modal Bilingualism

Topics: Linguistics, Language, Sign language Pages: 45 (10157 words) Published: January 24, 2013
International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism Vol. 13, No. 2, March 2010, 201Á223

Cross-modal bilingualism: language contact as evidence of linguistic transfer in sign bilingual education
Bruno Menendez*
PhD student and Member of the research projects Hum2006-10235-Fil (UPF) and FFI200801452-E (UIMP), both directed by Lourdes Diaz and funded by the Spanish Ministry of Research MICINN, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona, Spain

(Received 9 November 2009; final version received 9 November 2009) New positive attitudes towards language interaction in the realm of bilingualism open new horizons for sign bilingual education. Plaza-Pust and Morales-Lopez have ´

innovatively reconceptualised a new cross-disciplinary approach to sign bilingualism, based on both sociolinguistics and psycholinguistics. According to this framework, cross-modal bilingualism within the deaf community is a natural, dynamic phenomenon, where code mixing and code switching between languages of different modalities Á signed or spoken/written Á are often a pragmatic choice of the signer/speaker that serves specific purposes in specific contexts. Following this line of thought, cross-modal contact situations may be viewed as a sign of sophistication, as in any bilingualism, and a fundamental, transitory phase of bilingual language acquisition. Transfer from a sign language to a written second language has been put into question in the sign bilingual education literature. This project intends to address that question through the investigation of cross-modal contact categories found in the written productions of 15 deaf students in a bilingual secondary school in Barcelona. We argue that the pooling of resources that makes deaf students use structures from Catalan Sign Language in written English is suggestive of linguistic transfer at a morphosyntactic level and that language contact is positive to students’ bilingual development in this specific context. The impact of this finding for language teaching policy, practice and research in deaf education will be discussed. This study is part of a larger study to further analyse these contact phenomena according to milestones in second language acquisition of written English, Catalan and Spanish, and seeks to establish parallels between the bilingual acquisition development of these deaf students and that of their hearing counterparts. Keywords: cross-modal bilingualism; language interaction; language contact; code mixing; code switching; linguistic transfer

1. Introduction
Attention from researchers in bilingualism and bilingual education needs to be directed to the way language interaction has dominated the debate around sign bilingual education over the last decade. By language interaction we understand, in this article, the continuum of language contact that may take place under a plurilingual conception of language knowledge organisation versus previous multilingual conceptions, as advised in the Common European Framework proposed by *Email:

ISSN 1367-0050 print/ISSN 1747-7522 online
# 2010 Taylor & Francis
DOI: 10.1080/13670050903474101


B. Menendez

the Council of Europe (2001). If multilingualism has traditionally been understood as the simple addition of different languages, just as if they were saved in different mental compartments, plurilingualism is here conceived in relation to a continuous interaction of the different languages involved in plurilingual knowledge all through a life span. Language contact is the evidence of language interaction that can be found when analysing the oral, written or signed discourse of plurilinguals. It can either take the form of code mixing Á if it includes elements of both languages, or code switching Á if the code is commuted at a certain point. Cross-modal bilingualism1 would be an accurate linguistic term to refer to bilingualism involving two languages of different...

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