Sign networks: Nucleated network sign languages and rural homesign in Papua New Guinea

Lauren Reed

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


    The sociodemographic typology of sign languages classifies them based on the characteristics and configurations of their users. When considering homesign and sign languages in rural areas, this typology needs further refinement. Here, I present new concepts to enable this. The study is based on fieldwork with twelve deaf people in Western Highlands, Papua New Guinea, and review of studies worldwide. Sign language communities can be mapped as sign networks. Using this mapping, I propose a new typological category for languages with one central deaf user and many fluent hearing signers: nucleated network sign language. I use sign base analysis to determine lexical consistency between unconnected deaf signers in Western Highlands. The high level of consistency among largely unconnected deaf people is explained by a regional sign network connecting deaf and hearing signers. This research emphasises the role of both deaf and hearing signers in sign language emergence and maintenance. (Sign languages, social networks, sign networks, typology, homesign, rural sign languages, Papua New Guinea)∗
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)627-661
    JournalLanguage in Society
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 2021


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