Background and activities

I am professor of Signed language and interpreting at the Department of Language and Literature, and the program leder for the Section for Signed language and Interpreting Studies. I have a PhD in Signed Language Linguistics from the Department of Linguistics at Stockholm University, and am a trained Swedish Sign Language/Swedish/English interpreter.

In our BA-program in Norwegian Sign Language, I mainly teach in courses on language, communication, professional ethics, and interpreting theory.

Research interests:

- Sign Language Linguistics, with a special interest in sign language discourse produced during simultaneous interpretation.

- Corpus-based approaches to signed language research.

- Discourse structure and cohesion in signed language.

- Signed language interpreting, and how interpreters and the deaf community can cooperate and encourage mutual trust.

- M2L2-learning of signed languages

• Since 2014 I have been working in Trondheim, and my main research here has been on how sign language interpreters move their whole body in space – described as the embodiment of conceptual metaphors – and on the M2L2-acquisition of Norwegian Sign Language by our interpreting students. I am also interested in the relationship between interpreters and the deaf community, and in how research results can reach more people.

Selected research projects

• I am currently cooperating with Dr Rachel McKee, from Auckland, New Zealand, running parallel projects in Norway and New Zealand. The project is called "Interpreters as Agents of Language Policy".

• Our department is involved in a network for signed language corpora in the Nordic countries:

 • During 2012–2014 I ran the research project Use of Signing Space in Simultaneous Sign Langauge Interpreting., which was financed by the Swedish Research Council (Vetenskapsrådet).

• During 2010-2012 I was one of the researchers involved in the EU-financed project MEDISIGNS - Medical Sign Language & Interpreter Training:

Partners included experts from Ireland, Cyprus, Poland, Sweden and the UK.

Membership of editorial boards

Member of the editorial board of Deaf Worlds, 2003–2005.

Member of the editorial board of the International Journal of Interpreter Education from 2009–.

International work

I am a member of the Registration Panel of The Register of Irish Sign Language Interpreters (, and a member of the ISO Expert Group of WASLI (The World Association of Sign Language Interpreters) which provides expert advice to Technical Committe 37 Language and Terminology of the International Organization for Standardisation (ISO).

Currently, I am the external examiner for the European Master in Sign Language Interpreting program:,interpreters%20from%20across%20the%20world

Scientific, academic and artistic work

Displaying a selection of activities. See all publications in the database

Journal publications


  • Haualand, Hilde; Nilsson, Anna-Lena; Raanes, Eli. (2018) Tolking - språkarbeid og profesjonsutøvelse. Gyldendal Akademisk. 2018. ISBN 978-82-05-49528-9.

Part of book/report

  • Nilsson, Anna-Lena. (2018) Att tolka från ett tecknat till ett talat språk. Tolking - språkarbeid og profesjonsutøvelse.
  • Nilsson, Anna-Lena. (2018) Foreward. Sign Language interpreting- Theory and practice.
  • Raanes, Eli; Haualand, Hilde; Nilsson, Anna-Lena. (2018) Tolker og tolking - en introduksjon. Tolking - språkarbeid og profesjonsutøvelse.
  • Nilsson, Anna-Lena. (2016) Interpreting from signed language into spoken language: The skills and knowledge needed to succeed. To say or not to say – challenges of interpreting from sign language to spoken language. Proceedings of the 23rd EFSLI Conference, Warsaw, Poland, 11th–13th September 2015..


  • Nilsson, Anna-Lena. (2018) Continuing Professional Development (CPD) – continuing to develop your skills. Nordic Seminar 2018 "Theory in practice - Practice in theory: Bridgning the gap between researchers and practitioners" . Sveriges teckenspråkstolkars förening (STTF); Umeå. 2018-02-22 - 2018-02-25.
  • Nilsson, Anna-Lena. (2018) Hva gjør en professor i tegnspråk og tolking?. Tiltredelsesseminar . Institutt for språk og litteratur, NTNU; Trondheim. 2018-08-17 - 2018-08-17.
  • Nilsson, Anna-Lena; Myriam, Vermeerbergen. (2018) "Signed Language Linguistics: Taking Stock" Part 1 – Introducing the (history of the) field. International Congress of Linguists ICL20 . The Permanent International Committee of Linguists; Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC). 2018-07-02 - 2018-07-06.
  • Nilsson, Anna-Lena. (2016) Expressing time through space: Embodying conceptual metaphors in an L2. ISGS7 International Society for Gesture Studies Conference . International Society for Gesture Studies; Paris. 2016-07-18 - 2016-07-22.
  • Nilsson, Anna-Lena. (2016) Teaching L2-interpreters to embody conceptual metaphors: A way to future-proof signed language interpreting?. Critical Link 8 . Heriot Watt University; Edinburgh. 2016-06-29 - 2016-07-01.
  • Nilsson, Anna-Lena; Ferrara, Lindsay Nicole. (2016) Meaningful use of space: easy or hard for hearing L2 learners?. TISLR12 . La Trobe University; Melbourne. 2016-01-04 - 2016-01-07.