Repetition in Sign Language Poetry

  • Rachel Sutton-Spence


Repetition is a key feature of sign language poetry. Within the text of a poem in either signed or spoken language, elements (such as words or parts of words) can be repeated to create patterns that stand out as being unusual, so bringing the language of the poem into the foreground. Repetition creates an aesthetic effect, as the patterns make a poem sound or look elegant or entertaining and we admire the poet’s skill in achieving a poem within the strict discipline of certain repetitive patterns. Additionally, the repetition can highlight unusual relationships between words and ideas, creating further significance in the poem. Many of the repetitive effects we consider in this chapter are part of what Klima and Bellugi (1979) termed ‘internal poetic structure’, which is the structure of a poem that is created by a particular choice of signs. The repetitive effects of similar elements (particularly words or phrases) in poetry can be termed ‘parallelism’.


Deaf Child Signing Space Deaf Community General Connotation English Poetry 
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© Rachel Sutton-Spence 2005

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  • Rachel Sutton-Spence

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