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How does one present spoken dialogue as a secondary language to signed speech?

I want to write a novel and I was thinking of including a deaf character. I want to know the best way to express what the deaf person is signing because I don't think using speechmarks would be appropriate.

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    I think this should be on writers.se, but I suggest using a different typeface (italics if you've nothing better). – FumbleFingers Mar 13 '12 at 0:10
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    Another alternative would be to use different speech demarcation symbols - put the signings <between characters like this, for example>. – FumbleFingers Mar 13 '12 at 2:39
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    Science fiction authors deal with unusual forms of communication (e.g. telepathy) all the time. They usually handle it by using italics. – Pitarou Mar 13 '12 at 3:05

You would simply treat this as you would any other foreign language. The fact that the language is communicated by signing rather than speaking is immaterial.


We just addressed this recently, and the excellent answer suggested was guillemets. « and »


guillemets, as suggested by Lauren Ipsum, is a good option. Another one, that would appeal to me in reading it, would be to not use any speech marks:

"Do you like my use of language?" he questioned.

I wish you would sign more, she signed back.

The reason is that this sounds more silent to me - I read this, and get the silence and the occasional slap as the person signs back.

Of course, this would not always work, but it would make me think each time I read it, how this was being communicated.