How Hearing People Understand the Deaf and Some Legal Implications of Their Misinterpretation of Visual Expressions

  • Eiji TairaEmail author
  • Shizuka Itagaki


While the complexities of interpreting in constrained legal contexts such as trials may gradually be getting better understood by legal professionals, the particular difficulties of interpreting for the Deaf remain largely overlooked, and the recent involvement of citizen judges in Japan’s justice system makes it even more important to raise awareness about this aspect of language disadvantage. This paper focuses on a key feature of Japanese Sign Language: the non-manual markers produced by facial and body movements that accompany hand and finger signs. Research shows such markers to be poorly understood by non-Deaf observers and indeed even sign language interpreters sometimes conflate them with gestures used by hearing people.


Interpreting Language disadvantage Metonymy Non manual marker Non-verbal language Sign language 



Baba Hiroshi, a Deaf teacher of Japanese Sign Language at Kwansei Gakuin University, was the model for the photographs.


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© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Kwansei Gakuin UniversityNishinomiyaJapan

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