Language contact between Israeli sign language and Kufr Qassem sign language

Rose Stamp, Marah Jaraisy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


We investigate the contact situation between Israeli Sign Language (ISL) and Kufr Qassem Sign Language (KQSL) in a bilingual deaf community in Israel. We examine one outcome of language contact, known as reiteration - when two semantically equivalent lexical items from two different languages are produced sequentially. Until now, reiteration has been accepted as a clear example of code-switching. Yet, when we find multiple examples of reiteration present in mono lingual signers of KQSL, we ask the following question: Is this a case of code-switching? KQSL monolingual signers produce the signs girlISLgirlKQSLnot as an example of reiteration but rather as a compound with the meaning of "wife." We conclude that, in this case, the sign girlISLis borrowed from ISL into a preexisting compound present in KQSL. Using examples from monolingual and bilingual data, we unravel the mystery of the "wife" and the stages of language change it has undergone.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)455-491
Number of pages37
JournalSign Language Studies
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jun 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank the University of Haifa and Professor Wendy Sandler for allowing us to analyze the monolingual KQSL and monolingual ISL data from the Grammar of the Body project, funded by the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme, grant agreement No. 340140. Thanks to Meyad Sarsour and Rawan Sarsour for their KQSL consultation and for their help with data collection. Also, thanks to Sara Lanesman and Yifat Ben-Ze’ev for their help in the data collection process. Thanks to Debi Menashe for her expertise in ISL, to Shai Davidi for video and other technical assistance, to Shiri Barnhart for her administrative help, and to Roni Beit-Hallahmi for her support. We are grateful to the participants of the UK Language Variation and Change (UKLVC) conference in London, 2019 for their useful feedback. We also thank Calle Börstell for his helpful feedback in previous drafts of this paper. Special thanks go to all of our deaf participants who were involved in our study.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Gallaudet University Press. All rights reserved.


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