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Title: A study of lexical variation, comprehension and language attitudes in deaf users of Chinese Sign Language (CSL) from Beijing and Shanghai
Author: Ma, Yunyi
ISNI:       0000 0004 9353 2814
Awarding Body: UCL (University College London)
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2020
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Regional variation between the Beijing and Shanghai varieties, particularly at the lexical level, has been observed by sign language researchers in China (Fischer & Gong, 2010; Shen, 2008; Yau, 1977). However, few investigations into the variation in Chinese Sign Language (CSL) from a sociolinguistic perspective have previously been undertaken. The current study is the first to systematically study sociolinguistic variation in CSL signers’ production and comprehension of lexical signs as well as their language attitudes. This thesis consists of three studies. The first study investigates the lexical variation between Beijing and Shanghai varieties. Results of analyses show that age, region and semantic category are the factors influencing lexical variation in Beijing and Shanghai signs. To further explore the findings of lexical variation, a lexical recognition task was undertaken with Beijing and Shanghai signers in a second study looking at mutual comprehension of lexical signs used in Beijing and Shanghai varieties. The results demonstrate that Beijing participants were able to understand more Shanghai signs than Shanghai participants could understand Beijing signs. Historical contact is proposed in the study as a possible major cause for the asymmetrical intelligibility between the two varieties. The third study investigated signers’ attitudes towards regional varieties of CSL and Signed Chinese via a questionnaire. The findings demonstrate that older signers tended to have a conservative attitude towards their comprehension of regional signs of CSL, and that participants of both regions tended to ascribe high solidarity to their own varieties and high social status to Signed Chinese. This study has expanded our knowledge of sociolinguistic variation in Beijing and Shanghai signing varieties, and lays the groundwork for a future comprehensive study of the regional varieties in CSL. This study may also serve as a useful reference for official sign language planning in China including such issues as promoting a standardised lexicon across China and offering qualifications for CSL learners and interpreters.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available