Research & Scholarly Achievement
at Gallaudet University
Use of Address Terms in American Sign Language: An Examination of Deaf Students and Faculty in Higher Education
The use of language in interaction entails more than just exchanging information about thoughts and facts between one person and another. Language is also important in how relationships among people are defined and negotiated. While engaging in conversations people consciously or unconsciously show their identities, their connection to a specific culture or social group, and their desire to come close or distance themselves from others. A significant area of language in which these functions are highlighted is in address terms. This study investigates the use of address terms (e.g., pronouns, titles) and related linguistic and social behaviors that serve to establish social relationships between faculty and deaf students in a postsecondary setting. Specifically, we ask: How do deaf students establish social relationship when addressing deaf faculty members in a variety of communication situations (e.g., in-person meetings, email communication, introductions)? How do deaf faculty members establish social relationships with students? What are student and faculty attitudes about social relationships in the postsecondary setting.