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An Analysis of the Artistic and Linguistic Characteristics of Sign Songs in Korean Sign Language

  • Journal of Special Education: Theory and Practice
  • Abbr : JSPED
  • 2022, 23(3), pp.49-68
  • Publisher : Research Institute of the Korea Special Education
  • Research Area : Social Science > Education
  • Received : August 10, 2022
  • Accepted : August 30, 2022
  • Published : September 30, 2022

Nam Ki-Hyun 1 Junmo Cho 2

1나사렛대학교
2한동대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

[Purpose] Sign languages, as is the case with spoken languages, make use of their special properties when they are used for the creative arts. In this paper, we investigate the artistic and linguistic characteristics embedded in sign songs in Korean Sign Language. [Method] In order to verify that different types of sign songs exist and that they bear different linguistic features, we compared three translated sign songs that can be identified as belonging to one of two types, according to their authors and motivation. The first type includes a sign song translated by a committee of both hearing and Deaf people with the special purpose of standardizing the Korean National Anthem so that it can be sung together with hearing people. The other type includes two sign songs composed by Deaf authors, without any special intention other than their motivation to create art. The three songs were annotated according to ELAN (EUDICO Linguistic Annotator) for comprehensive analyses. [Results] The results show that there are striking differences between the two types of sign songs. First, the latter type was far less faithful to acoustic music than the first. Instead, it displayed higher dependency on its internal language rhythm. Second, the latter type displayed greater faithfulness to the use of sign language as a natural language for the sake of clear communication with the Deaf community. Third, the latter type used the sign space far more creatively, especially when marking contrasts metaphorically. Fourth, the creative use of sign language morphology and lexicon, such as spreading, was far more frequently found in the latter type. Lastly, metaphor, metonymy, and other poetic usages of the language were found in the latter type but not in the former. [Conclusion] These results support the notion that sign songs are not merely a translated version of acoustic music. Rather, sign songs demonstrate that music transcends the boundaries of acoustic realities. This means that, together with other creative art forms expressed through sign language, sign songs created by Deaf authors for the purposes of the creative arts can play an important role in promoting Deaf identity. Furthermore, this study implies the importance of providing Deaf schools with music curricula that recognize and promote a musical experience that is uniquely Deaf.

Citation status

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