Poetry in South African Sign Language: what is different?

  • Anne Baker Stellenbosch University and University of Amsterdam


Poetry in a sign language can make use of literary devices just as poetry in a spoken language can. The study of literary expression in sign languages has increased over the last twenty years and for South African Sign Language (SASL) such literary texts have also become more available. This article gives a brief overview of the linguistic devices sign language poetry can make use of, in particular those specific to the visual-spatial modality. As an illustration of these devices an analysis is then presented of the SASL poem Soweto by Modiegi Moime. This poem illustrates well the multi-layered meaning that can be created in sign language poetry through the use of the two hands and the non-manual components.


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Part II: Beyond Afrikaans - linguistic diversity in southern Africa