This book grew directly out of my experience in teaching a graduate-level course entitled Sociolinguistics in Deaf Communities at Gallaudet University in Washington, DC, and out of my frustration at not having one unified selfcontained text to use for the course. I have been teaching this course since the early 1980s. When I first taught the course, the readings that pertained specifically to Deaf communities came mostly from work on diglossia by Stokoe, work on variation and language contact by Woodward and others, and work on conversational structure by Baker. All this material was published in the late 1960s and early 1970s. However, since the early 1980s, with the ever-growing recognition and acceptance of sign languages as real languages and with the continuing empowerment of deaf people, the field of sign language sociolinguistics has virtually exploded. There is work to report on from all of the major areas of sociolinguistics: multilingualism, bilingualism and language contact, variation, discourse analysis, language planning and policy, language attitudes, and work that reports on Deaf communities all over the world. It is definitely time for a volume such as this one: a text for use in upper-level undergraduate and graduate sociolinguistics courses, a text which will be of interest also to sign language researchers, sociolinguists both deaf and hearing and interested laypersons.
I am very grateful to my co-contributors for their excellent and prompt work and, as a group, we express our deep gratitude to Ms. Jayne McKenzie, Department Secretary for the Department of ASL, Linguistics, and Interpretation at Gallaudet University, who patiently and cheerfully prepared the final manuscript, and to Mrs. Ethylyn DeStefano, Administrative Secretary in the same department, who provided invaluable technical support. We also acknowledge Andrew Winnard, Brenda Burke and Martin Mellor of Cambridge University Press, for their hard work on the volume. We are also grateful to Lois Lehman-Lenderman for the drawings in Chapter 4 and to M. J. Bienvenu for serving as the sign model. Finally, we give a collective and hearty thank you to our families, partners and friends for their support and encouragement.