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PhD defence

Personal experience narratives in three African sign languages

  • M. Dias Da Silva Morgado Pereira
Tuesday 27 February 2024
Academy Building
Rapenburg 73
2311 GJ Leiden


  • Prof.dr. M. Mous
  • dr. V. Nyst
  • dr. H. E. Morgan


This book is about three West African sign languages with different time-depths, community sizes and patterns of social interactions. Adamorobe Sign Language (AdaSL), Ghana, is an old village sign language used by 33 deaf people. Langue des Signes de Bouakako (LaSiBo), Côte d'Ivoire, is new and used by six deaf people in a village. Língua Gestual Guineense, Guinea-Bissau, is an emerging school-based sign language used by around 500 deaf people.

In the three sign languages, 45 narratives of personal experiences were analysed to better understand the influence of time depth, community size and socialisation frequency. Four different descriptive analyses of the narratives were carried out. Study 1 analysed narrative structure, following Labov & Waletzky's model (1967) and Freytag's dramatic pyramid (1894). Studies 2, 3 and 4 focused on specific narrative devices turning narratives more convincing, as part of Labov's (1972) "evaluation". These devices refer to the moments when storytellers enhance their narratives by embodying characters, using different signing perspectives (Study 2), role shifting between characters and constructed dialogues (Study 3) and different types of descriptions of the animal (Study 4).

These studies show that AdaSL and male LGG signers use devices reflecting a greater ability to capture the audience's attention, while LaSiBo and female LGG signers tend to show similar patterns in using simpler or reduced devices.
This study shows that the frequency of social interaction between deaf peers is the most crucial factor in language change over time.

PhD dissertations

Approximately one week after the defence, PhD dissertations by Leiden PhD students are available digitally through the Leiden Repository, that offers free access to these PhD dissertations. Please note that in some cases a dissertation may be under embargo temporarily and access to its full-text version will only be granted later.

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