Deaf around the World: The Impact of Language

Deaf around the World: The Impact of Language

Deaf around the World: The Impact of Language

Deaf around the World: The Impact of Language

Synopsis

Deaf around the World is a compendium of work by scholars and activists on the creation, context, and form of sign languages, and on the social issues and civil rights of Deaf communities. Renowned contributors such as James Woodward, Yerker Andersson, and Paddy Ladd offer new histories and overviews of major topics. Each chapter is followed by a response from a pre-eminent thinker in the field. The volume includes studies of sign languages and Deaf communities in Australia, Brazil, Britain, China, France, Germany, Ghana, India, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Myanmar, Nicaragua, South Africa, Southeast Asia, Sweden, Thailand, and the United States.

Excerpt

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This volume offers work in common areas of inquiry in Deaf studies around the world, both academic and activist. As such, it reaches out to people in multiple fields, including sign language linguistics and the broader area of Deaf studies, drawing on anthropology, psychology, cognitive science, education, medical demography and ethnography, economic development, and other disciplines. Additionally, while the material ranges from technical matters to ordinary topics, the language throughout is accessible to people from all walks of life, consistent with our goal of being a forum for the exchange of ideas between academics and activists and reaching a wide audience.

Why should we need such a forum? Who benefits?

Both of the editors of this volume are involved in linguistics. Work on the linguistics of sign languages is like work on the linguistics of spoken languages. However, not all linguistic communities are equivalent in terms of a researcher's responsibility to the community. If you work on Italian, for example, your linguistic consultants do not necessarily experience problems in daily life due to their language and/or culture. If you work on Haisla (an indigenous language of North America), on the other hand, your linguistic consultants constantly struggle with problems connected to their cultural heritage, including discrimination that (subtly or overtly) threatens their abilities to realize the full range of rights and opportunities that people who are part of the mainstream culture around them enjoy. Furthermore, their language (and, thus, culture) might even be endangered. Common decency demands that the researcher not ignore the plight of the community but instead offer something in return. Many academic linguists who work on endangered languages feel that they should be responsive to the needs and desires of the community in formal arrangements for the dissemination of information, as well as informal commitments to make their work relevant and responsible to community concerns.

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