Edited By Magdalena Olpinska-Szkieko and Loretta Bertelle
The phenomenon of bimodal bilingualism affects people who use spoken language and sign language equally. It is also worth noting that this issue relates to various spoken languages and various sign languages. A Deaf community exists, more or less, in all countries and each of them has developed their own national sign language. It should be noted that in this article, the term ‘sign language’ is to be understood exclusively as natural sign languages that have arisen in the environment of deaf people. We do not recognise the so-called manually-coded sign language (system językowo-migowy, SJM), which was established in every country in which there was collective education for the deaf. This system also was developed in Poland in the 1960s as an easy way to facilitate communication between deaf and hearing people. It involves the use of natural sign language signs as a way of encoding the Polish language and uses speech and gestures simultaneously, meaning that we are not dealing with bilingualism but rather a bimodal way of communicating spoken language (Farris 1994: 14). This system is often used by deaf people for whom Polish is their first language. It is also quite strongly prevalent in the public sphere (TV interpreters, exert witnesses) due to the high accessibility of learning this language. It thus provides an illusion of identity, while natural sign language – in this case, Polish Sign Language (polski język migowy, PJM) – is not a sub-code for the Polish language, but a separate language...
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