In April of 2008, students in Kay Gonzalez-Vilbazo’s seminar on code-switching gave talks as part of a linguistics series known as University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) Talks in Linguistics (TiL). The first Bilingualism Forum (BilForum) was organized by many of those students, and additional faculty, the following fall. It is held every two years and features talks on all aspects of bilingualism. Presenters come from all over the US and internationally including U-M. The fifth installment took place on October 20-21 this year.

U-M Linguistics doctoral student Marjorie Herbert presented at BilForum 2016 with professor Acrisio Pires. Their talk was entitled "Mouthing, fingerspelling, or both?: Code-switching and Lexical Borrowing in American Sign Language (ASL).”


According to Poplack (1980), the most common outcomes of language contact found among the bilingual communities of the world are code-switching, code-mixing, and lexical borrowing, and the contact situation involving American Sign Language (ASL) and spoken English; however, it is complicated by the fact that the two languages in question are transmitted in different modalities. Thus, the question of the representation of spoken English, transmitted via the oral-aural modality, in the visuo-spatial modality of ASL, and vice versa, poses a problem for their linguistic analysis. The focus of this abstract is one of these outcomes, ‘fingerspelling’, in which signers represent English words by spelling them via the manual alphabet, in the congenitally d/Deaf community, and its implications for theories of lexical borrowing.