Intersubjectivity and (non-)shared modes of interaction in Australian tactile signing

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3 Citations (Scopus)


Intersubjectivity has been presented as a way of better understanding how, whether and to what degree interlocutors share or can negotiate linguistic meaning in interaction. The current study investigates manual and non-manual pragmatic cues used by deafblind Australians, and the degree to which these cues are shared with visual or novice tactile signers. We first examine focus group discussions in which deafblind Australians discuss what they consider to be the most problematic aspects of interaction with visual signers. Issues raised include the need to negotiate and establish a signing space and greater care in how signs are conveyed. We next analyse a conversation in which an experienced tactile signer introduces a less experienced signer to the importance of what she calls “touch expression”. The experienced signer highlights that touch expression–greater attention paid to where one places/rests one's hands and/or positions one's legs or arms–enables an interlocutor to signal greater co-presence and shared attention to emotions and tone. We close by acknowledging arguments made elsewhere that the intersubjective world of tactile signers is profoundly different from visual signers, and that effort should be taken to better understand tactile interaction from the perspective of the deafblind signers.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103295
Number of pages17
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • Auslan
  • Embodied communication
  • Intersubjectivity
  • Multimodality
  • Sign language
  • Tactile Auslan

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