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Study on Sarcasm and American Sign Language

VIDEO [CC] - University of Manitoba researchers study how people who are Deaf understand sarcasm.

CBC WINNIPEG -- Researcher Nicole Hiebert studying how sarcasm is conveyed and understood among Deaf, Hard of Hearing. Researchers at the University of Manitoba are looking for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Manitobans to participate in a new study covering uncharted territory discovering how people who use American Sign Language convey sarcasm.

It's the first time researchers have looked at how adults who use sign language communicate and understand sarcasm. For those in the community, it's no secret.


"There isn't a lot of research. We certainly know [sarcasm is] prevalent in sign language usage, but there is not that research that actually provides evidence how sarcasm is relayed," said Rick Zimmer, who co-ordinates the ASL interpretation program at Winnipeg's Red River College.

Zimmer is Deaf, as is his wife, Kyra and son Cody. Kyra and Zimmer are both instructors at RRC, and Zimmer said sarcasm is a part of his instruction teaching hearing interpreters how to understand and convey sarcasm between people who use ASL and the Hearing community.

"I do it by demonstrating sarcasm and in that way they see it and learn it," he said. "Whether or not interpreters are actually capable of using it and conveying sarcasm themselves is another question."

That's where the U of M's Nicole Hiebert comes in.

"I've just been really fascinated and passionate about signing for my entire life pretty much," she said. "I've had a deaf friend since I was really young."

Now, she's melding her experiences in the Deaf Studies program with the research of Melanie Glenwright, an associate professor who specializes in sarcasm and sarcasm comprehension for the U of M's psychology department.

The study is going to look at the cues within the Deaf community for understanding and comprehending sarcasm... Read More: HERE

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