Concurrent events— Simultaneity in Taiwan Sign Language

Whereas spoken languages present events in a linear fashion—because a speaker can only pronounce one phoneme at a time—sign languages can make use of space to express more than one meaning units at a time. Two different signs can be simultaneously displayed by each hand at different positions. As a result, sign languages can be very lively. Using both hands, signers can indicate that two events are concurrent, or take place at the same time. E.g. The two grew up together (displaying two subjects and their actions at the same time). He is older than I (at the same time indicating I am younger than he)/ He holds a higher position than I (at the same time indicating I hold a lower position than he).The second example shows that when making comparisons, TSL presents both entities that are being compared, so that the audience see clearly the difference between the two. Comparison goes both ways: if he is older than I, then I am younger than he.In addition, two actions that take place at the same time are often expressed as one set of signs. For example, the sign for talking on the phone is created by combining making phone calls and talking.