Deaf signing diversity and signed language translations

Gabrielle Hodge*, Della Goswell

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


This article explores what deaf signing diversity means for the creation of effective online signed language translations in Australia and for language theory more generally. We draw on the translanguaging and enregisterment literature to describe the communication practices and individual repertoires of deaf Auslan signers, and to problematise the creation of translations from English into Auslan. We also revisit findings from focus group research with deaf audiences and translation practitioners to identify key elements of existing translations that were problematic for many deaf viewers, and to illuminate what makes an act of translation from English into Auslan effective for signers who need these translations the most. One main challenge is the inherent hybridity of signed communication practices, resulting from variable language learning circumstances and other factors. Instead, signed communication practices are often shaped by what we refer to as the nascency principle: the perpetual redevelopment of new forms of expression for understanding the specific discourse and spatiotemporal context, by and for the signers who are physically present. This affects possibilities for enregisterment and therefore translations. We conclude with suggestions for improving translations and some broader implications for understanding and researching signed languages.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages39
JournalApplied Linguistics Review
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 25 Oct 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Research funding: The original study was funded by the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN), with additional support from the Australian Communication Exchange (ACE), The Deaf Society (TDS), Deaf Services Queensland (DSQ), Vicdeaf, and the Western Australian Deaf Society (WADS). Preparation of this article was supported by UK Arts and Humanities Research Council funding (AH/N00924X/1).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Gabrielle Hodge and Della Goswell, published by De Gruyter, Berlin/Boston 2021.

Copyright 2021 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • deaf
  • enregisterment
  • nascency
  • sign language
  • translation


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