Bilingualism and Identity in Deaf Communities

By Wilcox, Phyllis Perrin | Sign Language Studies, Fall 2004 | Go to article overview

Bilingualism and Identity in Deaf Communities


Wilcox, Phyllis Perrin, Sign Language Studies


Bilingualism and Identity in Deaf Communities, ed. Melanie Metzger (Washington, D.C.: Gallaudet University Press, 2000, 3 17 pp., casebound, $55.00)

MELANIE METZGER made the right choice when she began her Bilingualism and Identity in Deaf Communities with a chapter on New Zealand name signs. The chapter is interesting and easy to identify with. Everybody has a name. The subject easily leads the reader into the other ten chapters in this volume of Sociolinguistics in Deaf Communities, the sixth of a series of books published by Gallaudet University Press. Many who purchased the first collection years ago, Sociolinguistics in Deaf Communities, remember the initial impact that these chapters had on bringing about increased recognition to the American Deaf community and its sociolinguistic activities. If you have not kept up with the series, you may be surprised to find the diversity of topics in the first six volumes: Sociolinguistics in Deaf Communities (Ceil Lucas, editor); Multicultural Aspects of Sociolinguistics in Deaf Communities (Lucas); Deaf Children in Public Schoools (Claire Ramsey); Pinky iExtension and Eye Gaze; Language Use in Deaf Communities (Lucas); Storytelling and Conversation: Discourse in Deaf Communities (Elizabeth Winston); and this volume, edited by Metzger. The first five volumes provide excellent material for understanding the mores, values, and rationale behind many actions in deaf communities throughout the United States.

The volume under review provides a worldview of Deaf communities and offers contrasts and similarities of the cultural and linguistic behaviors of Deaf communities in various parts of the world. One opens the cover and realizes that the book indeed offers a global look at Deaf communities. And what an offer it is-Argentine semiotic aspects; education of Deaf children in Barcelona; New Zealand name signs; Mexican miracle cures; European Union minority language policy; Swedish tactile turn-taking; Nicaraguan search for roots; codeswitching between American Sign Language and cued speech, and more.

The first chapter, "Name Signs and Identity in New Zealand Sign Language" by Rachel Locker McKee and David McKee, begins this way: "Personal names in any culture are a potential gold mine of information about social relationships, identity, history, and linguistic processes." One might assume that all names are given in similar ways-the process is so natural. But the reader finds that name bestowing in New Zealand is sometimes quite different from the practice found in, say, the United States.

The authors videotaped 118 deaf people from two years to seventy years of age in three major regions of New Zealand. Since many informants had more than one name sign, the authors recorded a total of 223 name signs. Informants were asked to provide their legal name, age, the schools they attended, all the name signs they had had during their life, the date each one was acquired, and the etymology behind each name sign.

Seven distinct name sign categories in New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL) were discovered. Several of them are similar to American naming practices, such as acquiring new names signs when a Deaf person moves to a different community or takes on a new role in relation to a group of signers. A couple of interesting differences were noted also.

In ASL descriptive name signs (those that make use of classifiers to identify a person's physical characteristics) are typically not ascribed to adults. Adult ASL users are more likely to have an arbitrary, initialized name sign than a descriptive one. In NZSL the opposite occurs. Fingerspelled initials are regarded as "a temporary and uninteresting measure, usually adopted only until a descriptive name sign evolves" (27). In fact, for deaf people over the age of fifty-one, no NZSL fmgerspelling in any of their names was found.

McKee and McKee found another interesting, age-related pattern. The oldest cohort (51 + years) has the highest number of name signs that are based on their spoken names. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • A full archive of books and articles related to this one
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Bilingualism and Identity in Deaf Communities
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

    Already a member? Log in now.