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Call for papers – TIPA journal vol. 34, 2018

Tipa. Travaux interdisciplinaires sur la parole et le langage


Sign language: inventory, description, formalisation, practices

Melanie Hamm (LPL & Aix-Marseille University)

Invited editor

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  • 1 See for example, picture 421, page 334, in Companys, 2007.

“La langue des signes, c’est comme ça” (“Sign language, that’s how it is”) refers to the book Les sourds, c’est comme ça (the deaf, that’s how it is) by Yves Delaporte (2002). In this book, the world of the deaf, French sign language, and its specificities are described. One of the particularities of French sign language is the gesture for “that’s how it is”1, a common expression for the deaf expressing a certain respectful, non judgmental distance towards their environment. It is with this same optic, near scientific probity, simple and precise, that we try to study sign language.

Even if we notice progress in the linguistics of signed language in general, and French sign language in particular, specifically in the works of Christian Cuxac (1983), Harlan Lane (1991) or Susan D. Fischer (2008), the linguistic of sign language remains an under-explored field. Moreover, French sign language is at risk of disappearing (Moseley, 2010 and Unesco, 2011). But what is that language? How to define it? What are its mechanisms, its structure, how to study it, from which angle, by which approach? This silent language questions a number of the rules of linguistics, such as the universality of phonemes, and raises numerous issues to which there are yet no satisfactory answers. In what way is it similar and different from oral languages? Does it only “belong” to deaf people? Must it be studied, shared, preserved, recorded like any language which belongs to the immaterial patrimony of humanity (Unesco, 2003)? How to teach it? By which means? What does history tell us about it? What is the future of sign language? What do those most concerned say about this? Many very contemporary questions are therefore raised…

The issue 34 of the journal “Travaux Interdisciplinaires sur la Parole et le Langage” will try to establish the state of research and to propose an overview of the different works studying this so singular language, without locking them up in a single discipline. We are looking for unpublished works relating to sign language and more particularly French sign language. They should propose description, formalisation, or outline of the several uses of signed languages. A comparative approach of the different sign languages, reflections on variants and variations will also be welcome. Sociolinguistic considerations, semantics and structures, an etymological study of signs could also be the subject of articles. Moreover a space will be reserved for testimony by signing deaf people.

The articles submitted to TIPA journal will be read and evaluated by the reviewing committee of the journal. They can be submitted in French or English and can include images and videos (please consult “author’s instructions” at A length of 10 to 20 pages is preferable for each article or 35,000 to 80,000 characters or 6,000 to 12,000 words. Recommended average size is around 15 pages. The authors are asked to provide a summary of the article in its language (French or English; between 120 and 200 words) as well as a two-page summary in the other language (French if the article is in English or vice versa) as well as 5 key-words in both languages (French-English). The proposed articles should be sent in .doc format (Word) and reach the TIPA journal electronically to the following addresses: and

(Translation from French by Anne Carcagno.)

Important dates

  • April 6, 2017: first call for papers

  • July 13, 2017: second call for papers

  • September 14, 2017: submission of the articles (first version)

  • November 14, 2017: feed-back of the Reading Committee (notification of acceptance, modification or refusal)

  • January 14, 2018: submission of the revised articles (second version)

  • February 2018: feed-back of the Reading Committee

  • March / April 2018: submission of the final version

  • May / June 2018: publication of the vol. 34

Submission guidelines

Please kindly send the article by email in three copies to and

  • One file in .doc including the title, name and affiliation of the author(s)

  • Two anonymous files, in .doc and .pdf format

The publishing instructions can be found at:

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COMPANYS, Monica (2007). Prêt à signer. Guide de conversation en LSF. Angers : Éditions Monica Companys.

CUXAC, Christian (1983). Le langage des sourds. Paris : Payot.

DELAPORTE, Yves (2002). Les sourds, c’est comme ça. Paris : Maison des sciences de l’homme.

FISCHER, Susan D. (2008). Sign Languages East and West. In : Piet Van Sterkenburg, Unity and Diversity of Languages. Philadelphia/Amsterdam : John Benjamins Publishing Company.

LANE, Harlan (1991). Quand l’esprit entend. Histoire des sourds-muets. Traduction de l’américain par Jacqueline Henry. Paris : Odile Jacob.

MOSELEY, Christopher (2010). Atlas des langues en danger dans le monde. Paris : Unesco.

UNESCO (2011). Nouvelles initiatives de l’UNESCO en matière de diversité linguistique :

UNESCO (2003). Convention de 2003 pour la sauvegarde du patrimoine culturel immatériel :


1 See for example, picture 421, page 334, in Companys, 2007.

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