Put another way. Reformulation as a window into discourse and interaction in LSFB (French Belgian Sign Language)

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Reformulation involves saying something again in a different way. Because of its metalinguistic nature (Rabatel 2017), combined with its general aim of clarifying the utterance, we propose to consider the act of reformulation as offering a window to the way interlocutors process and adjust themselves and their utterances in their social language practices. More specifically, this study proposes a set of four analytical criteria to characterize interlocutors’ investment in discourse and interaction via the observation of their use of reformulations. These criteria concern the frequency of reformulations within a production, the proportion of self- and other-reformulations (Güllich and Kotschi 1987), the type of adjustment that the act of reformulation seeks to achieve (Authier-Revuz 1995) and the type of semiotic strategies used, namely descriptive, indicative and depictive ways of meaning making (Clark 1996; Ferrara and Hodge 2018). The paper draws on the exploratory analysis of the productions of deaf LSFB signers extracted from the LSFB Corpus. It illustrates how describing the reformulations according to the proposed criteria, reveals distinctions between different patterns of pragmatic attitude and involvement in discourse and interaction. This approach opens new avenues for the pragmatic descriptions of LSFB and signed discourses in general.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)145-178
Number of pages34
JournalBelgian Journal of Linguistics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 31 Dec 2022


  • discourse
  • interaction
  • language heterogeneity
  • LSFB (French Belgian Sign Language)
  • reformulation
  • semiotic complexity


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