Irish Sign Language Book by Trinity Academics Launched

Posted on: 19 December 2012

The first comprehensive body of work on Ireland’s indigenous sign language Irish Sign Language: A Cognitive Approach was launched by MEP for Dublin, Emer Costello, at the Deaf Village Ireland on December 8th last.

The book, written by the Director of Trinity Centre for Deaf Studies, Dr Lorraine Leeson and Head of the School of Linguistic, Speech and Communication Sciences at TCD, Professor John Saeed, describes the social and historical background of Irish Sign Language (ISL), and places ISL in a global context. It examines the linguistic structure of ISL and contributes to the developing investigation of the relationship between spoken and signed languages.

“Irish Sign Language (ISL) is the indigenous sign language of Ireland, used in the Republic and Northern Ireland by more than 6,000 people. It is a living and vibrant language that serves the expressive, social and cultural functions of any other language, spoken or signed,” said Professor John Saeed. “This book explores how grammar, meaning and communication works in a language whose expression is not sound but movement in space. It also describes the history of ISL and its relations with other sign languages of the world.”

Professor John Saeed, Ms. Emer Costello, MEP,  Dr. Lorraine Leeson and Minister Joe Costello

The work provides an essential resource for researchers in sign linguistics, sign language teachers and interpreters, students of sign linguistics, and learners of ISL in Ireland. Examples of signing within the book are taken from the School of Linguistic, Speech and Communication Sciences’ Signs of Ireland corpus, one of the largest digital collections of a signed language in Europe, which are also included on the DVD accompanying the book.

“This is an invaluable piece of work that contributes to our understanding of the complexity of Irish Sign Language and the impact of ISL on the world stage.” stated MEP for Dublin, Emer Costello.

Irish Sign Language: A Cognitive Approach (Edinburgh University Press)