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Abstract

Interpreters are aware that signed languages often do not have ‘established’ vocabulary for specialized topic domains, including topics that may occur regularly in situations that require interpreting. Healthcare is one such domain where interpreters are often challenged for equivalent signed language vocabulary or ways to communicate about the details of physical conditions, processes and treatments. Motivated by this practice reality, this study analyzed a corpus of deaf New Zealand Sign Language users’ accounts of women’s health-related experiences, to examine the language forms they used to communicate such topics. In this article, we present an analysis of how deaf women express women’s health-related issues, with the aim of determining shared vocabulary that exists in the corpus, and variation among these forms. As predicted, we found that the use of depicting signs (classifier constructions) and constructed action feature strongly in their accounts. The extent and limits of ‘frozen’ lexicon, and key productive strategies for talking about women’s healthcare concepts must be made explicit in interpreter training and practice.

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