scispace - formally typeset
Search or ask a question
BookDOI

The Sociolinguistics of Sign Languages: Frontmatter

01 Jan 2001-
About: The article was published on 2001-01-01 and is currently open access. It has received 63 citations till now. The article focuses on the topics: Sign language & Sociolinguistics of sign languages.

Summary (1 min read)

Jump to:  and [Summary]

Summary

  • When he first started his teaching, there were readings from 1960s and 1970s; however, new studies have been required with the growing importance of sign language community's needs and empowerment.
  • In the book, there are six main areas to examine which are multilingualism, bilingualism, sociolinguistic variation, discourse analysis, language planning and policy and language attitudes.
  • The global approach to sign languages is discussed.
  • Next, existing languages are discussed and it is said that there are 6.703 languages according to Ethnologue database (Ethnologue database 1996).
  • Mutual intelligibility and problems of nomenclature are the next stated subtopics.
  • Mutual intelligibility is stated to be an important issue because two nations' languages may be very similar; however, they may be accepted two different languages (ex. Swedish and Danish, New Zealand Sign Language and Australian Sign Language).
  • Afterwards, naming sign languages in Europe is defined, which states according to European Union of the Deaf's study, sign languages' names are defined by the specific region of the country (Belgium, Spanish sign languages, etc.).
  • Another issue discussed in this chapter is historical relationships of languages.
  • In spoken languages family trees of languages may show the origins of the languages; however, sign languages may not be divided into families; only some patterns and relationships may be defined.

Did you find this useful? Give us your feedback

Content maybe subject to copyright    Report

ELT Research Journal
The Sociolinguistics of Sign Languages
(Edited by Ceil Lucas, Cambridge University Press, 2004, Cambridge, UK)
Ebru Altın
1
Çanakkale Onsekiz Mart University, Turkey
The Sociolinguistics of Sign Languages is a study published by Cambridge University Press in
2004 and edited by Ceil Lucas who has been teaching a graduate level course entitled Sociolinguistics
in Deaf Communities at Gallaudet University in Washington, DC since 1980s. When he first started
his teaching, there were readings from 1960s and 1970s; however, new studies have been required
with the growing importance of sign language community’s needs and empowerment. In the
introduction part Lucas states the history of sign language studies, today’s situations and his
reflections on the importance of the sociolinguistic research for Deaf communities. In the book, there
are six main areas to examine which are multilingualism, bilingualism, sociolinguistic variation,
discourse analysis, language planning and policy and language attitudes.
The first topic which Woll, Sutto-Spence and Elton deal with is Multilingualism. In this
chapter, the global approach to sign languages is discussed. The first issue to be clarified is sign
languages used by hearing people. It is widely explained that how hearing people use their sign
languages which are different from Deaf communities’ sign languages. Next, existing languages are
discussed and it is said that there are 6.703 languages according to Ethnologue database (Ethnologue
database 1996). Mutual intelligibility and problems of nomenclature are the next stated subtopics.
Mutual intelligibility is stated to be an important issue because two nations’ languages may be very
similar; however, they may be accepted two different languages (ex. Swedish and Danish, New
Zealand Sign Language and Australian Sign Language). Afterwards, naming sign languages in Europe
is defined, which states according to European Union of the Deaf’s study, sign languages’ names are
defined by the specific region of the country (Belgium, Spanish sign languages, etc.). Another issue
discussed in this chapter is historical relationships of languages. In spoken languages family trees of
languages may show the origins of the languages; however, sign languages may not be divided into
families; only some patterns and relationships may be defined. Lastly the issue how world politics and
educational systems affect sign languages is discussed.
1
Çanakkale Onsekiz Mart University, Faculty of Education, ELT Department, MA. E-mail: ebrualtin@gmail.com
Available online at:
http://www. ulead.org.tr/journal
International Association of Research
in Foreign Language Education and Applied Linguistics
ELT Research Journal
2013, 2(3), 150-153
ISSN: 2146-9814

The sociolinguistics of sign languages 151
ELT Research Journal
The second chapter discussed by Ann is bilingualism and language contact. The first topic to
be discussed in this chapter is societal and individual bilingualism in the hearing world. Giving
examples from Canada, Belgium and Singapore she states that although the society has bilingual
policy, many of its speakers may be monolingual. In terms of deaf world, examples from three villages
in USA, Mexico and Indonesia indicates that both hearing and deaf people signs and being deaf is a
normal phenomenon. Discussion goes on with the issue that bilingualism in the deaf world and it is
clearly explained whether deaf community may be bilingual or not. The term diglossia is the next
issue to be examined. Diglossia in hearing world is widely explained; however, in deaf communities it
is stated to be a controversial issue. Ann clarifies the influence of a first language upon the second
language and she discuss the terms taking into consideration the sign languages. Moreover, she sheds
light on loan vocabulary explaining it in two ways fingerspelling and character signs. In addition, she
explains mouthing which is also connected to speech. Lastly, pidgins and creoles related to sign
languages are discussed and code switching and code mixing are clarified.
Next chapter, sociolinguistic variations is written by Lucas, Bayley, Valli, Rose and Wulf. In
this chapter, sociolinguistic variation on the spoken language and sign language are examined. They
firstly represented the studies on spoken language and then states the studies on sign languages and at
the end they compare the findings and criticize the lacking parts of the findings. Linguistic variation is
discussed in depth explaining sociolinguistic variable, variable units in spoken language like
phonology, syntax, etc. Different studies on linguistic variation in spoken languages are examined. As
a next step, the main aim of the chapter which is linguistic variation in sign languages is discussed and
stating that variation in sign languages are also available by the help of many studies’ findings they
clarify these variations. Afterwards, sign languages and spoken languages are compared in terms of
variable units, variable process, internal constraints and social constraints. At the end of the chapter,
three studies on variation in sign languages are reviewed and in the studies the changing perspectives
on sign language structure and use are defined. The main point of the chapter is variations in both
spoken and written languages are systematic and although the social factors such as region, gender,
age, etc. are the same for both languages, some factors such as language use at home is unique to sign
language variation.
In the 4
th
chapter, Metzger and Bahan discuss the discourse analysis in both spoken and sign
languages. They start with examining the discourse structure and discourse interaction in spoken
languages. Moreover, after they add the relations of discourse and context, they explain the
methodological approaches to discourse analysis which are speech act theory, interactional
sociolinguistics, ethnography of communication, pragmatics, conversation analysis and variation
analysis. These approaches are related with sign languages and examined in terms of sign languages
since they have also been applied to the study of sign languages discourse. Afterwards, the features of
sign language discourse are stated in depth. The first feature which is turntaking in sign languages is
described with examples and the unique features to sign languages are stated. Next, conversational
repair and occurrence of false starts are discussed stating that nonhanded signs such as brief handshake
and head movement to the right then left and lastly in normal position may be used to repair. Later,
discourse markers such as ‘and, but’ and using such markers while signing is described. The ways of
constructing dialogue and acting out is discussed as a next step and making them coherent is
questioned. Lastly, some of the strategies to involve addressees more in what is being uttered is
discussed under the terms of rhythm, rhyme and repetition. At the end of the chapter, the relevance of
discourse genre is stated in terms of weather being monologic or dialogic and taking into consideration
the approaches stated above.
Reagon intends to show the importance of language planning and policy in the 5
th
chapter. He
starts with the description of language planning and policy which mean creating new terminology
where needed and then explains the nature and purposes of language planning and language policy
activities in general. He states that language planning activities occurring both in status planning and
corpus planning serve five different functions which are language purification, language revitalization,
language reform, language standardization and language modernization. He explains each function in
terms of both spoken languages and sign languages. Next topic being discussed is the role of ideology

Altın, E.. / ELT Research Journal 2013, 2(3), 150-153 152
© International Association of Research in Foreign Language Education and Applied Linguistics All rights reserved
in language policy. Here, four ideologies of language policy which are linguistic assimilation,
linguistic pluralism, vernacularization and internationalization are discussed. It is stated that ideologies
play important roles in both status and corpus planning for sign languages and spoken languages.
Afterwards, the language planning process is explained in three stages which are gathering
information, determining of goals, strategies and outcomes and evaluating. The last stage is stated to
be the most neglected but the most important stage. Next, issues of language rights in language policy
debates and the use of language planning and language policy to achieve social, political and
educational ends are discussed. It is stated that these policies may be misused as to maintain social
class discriminating and social and educational discrimination. At the end of the chapter, evaluating
language policies is discussed deeply. As a conclusion, it is indicated that language planning activities
may be done with sincere efforts; however, they may fail to take into consideration the complex
language rights of deaf and hearing people.
In the sixth part language attitudes are discussed by Burns, Matthews and Nolan-Conroy. The
chapter starts with questioning why language attitudes are studied and provides some definitions of the
term according to mentalists and behaviorists. Here the term explained in terms of both sign
languages and spoken languages. Later, some of the early research after 1960s is examined and which
languages have been seen superior to which ones in both spoken and sing languages are defined.
Moving to the next topic, how language attitudes studies have been carried out is discussed. As an
explanation to this question it is said that language attitude measurement techniques have been divided
into three categories which are content analysis, direct measurement and indirect measurement.
Related to the studies, some of the questions addressed, some of the answers are given and theories
were developed related to the questions. In the following issues which are attitudes toward languages
and language groups, it is stated that while majority language is generally regarded as superior and
people have positive attitudes toward them, minority language is viewed negatively. This is the case
for the deaf community, it is thought that sign languages are inferior and deaf community is in the
same opinion as well. Towards the end of the chapter, consequences and applications are discussed in
the light of three fields which are positive or negative attitudes toward second language, employee’s
hiring practices which is generally negative toward minority groups, unsuccessfulness of mass media
and the most important field in terms of influence of attitudes on it which is education. At the end of
the chapter, it is stated that attitudes change over time and are never stable. Additionally here, it is
indicated that languages or language groups which were accepted as inferior may become accepted
and respected.
As bringing together many researchers’ ideas under six main topics of sociolinguistics and
indicating all the issues’ relevance to sign languages, Lucas collects a number of valuable and
informative ideas together. In each chapter, the topics are discussed in terms of spoken languages and
then they are discussed in terms of sign languages in depth. In each chapter, many studies, their
findings and some implications or reflections are provided. The topics are presented from specific
fields to broader social fields which makes the cohesion of the ideas easier. Since all the ideas in the
chapters are supported by a great number of studies, it is worth reading to have a wide general
knowledge on the issues. The organizations of the chapters are well designed, thus it does not cause
readers to miss the path and get lost. On the contrary, it is easy to follow the ideas the writers want to
convey. Starting each chapter, with quotations not only give a general overview of the chapter, but
also arise readers’ curiosity on the matter of issues mentioned in the chapters.
On the other hand, some chapters include unnecessary definitions and explanations on spoken
language fields. Since this is a book dealing with the sociolinguistics of sign languages, it would be
profitable to analyze the sign languages in depth. While the most informative and useful chapters are
multilingualism, bilingualism, discourse analysis and language attitudes; the less preferable topics are
sociolinguistic variation and language planning and policy. The topic sociolinguistic variation is less
comprehensible in terms of sign languages since some of the readers may not be familiar with the
normal fingerspelling or mouthing of sign languages. In language planning and policy chapter the
terms used to explain the issues are based on terminology and are vague.

The sociolinguistics of sign languages 153
ELT Research Journal
All in all, Ceil Lucas provides a practical way to understand the sociolinguistics of sign
languages. Her book sheds light on the social and linguistic perspectives of sign languages. The
Sociolinguistics of Sign Languages is highly recommended to all people who are interested in sign
languages and want to build their own philosophy on sign languages sociolinguistics.
References:
Lucas, C. (2004). The Sociolinguistics of Sign Languages. UK, Cambridge: Cambridge University
Press.
Citations
More filters
Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: In this paper, the authors focus on the history of deaf communities and show that the current issues have roots in the past, including the central role of education in the creation and maintenance of communities.
Abstract: ▪ Abstract Because of their deafness, deaf people have been marked as different and treated problematically by their hearing societies. Until 25 years ago, academic literature addressing deafness typically described deafness as pathology, focusing on cures or mitigation of the perceived handicap. In ethnographic accounts, interactions involving deaf people are sometimes presented as examples of how communities treat atypical members. Recently, studies of deafness have adopted more complex sociocultural perspectives, raising issues of community identity, formation and maintenance, and language ideology. Anthropological researchers have approached the study of d/Deaf communities from at least three useful angles. The first, focusing on the history of these communities, demonstrates that the current issues have roots in the past, including the central role of education in the creation and maintenance of communities. A second approach centers on emic perspectives, drawing on the voices of community members th...

161 citations

Book
21 Nov 2019
TL;DR: Sign language phonology is the abstract grammatical component where primitive structural units are combined to create an infinite number of meaningful utterances, and this comparison allows us to better understand how the modality of a language influences its phonological system.
Abstract: A concise overview of key findings and ideas in sign language phonology and its contributions to related fields, including historical linguistics, morphology, prosody, language acquisition and language creation. Working on sign languages not only provides important new insights on familiar issues, but also poses a whole new set of questions about phonology, because of the use of the visual communication modality. This book lays out the properties needed to recognize a phonological system regardless of its modality. Written by a leading expert in sign language research, the book describes the current state of the field and addresses a range of issues that students and researchers will encounter in their work, as well as highlighting the significant impact that the study of sign languages has had on the field of phonology as a whole. It includes lists of further reading materials, and a full glossary, as well as helpful illustrations that demonstrate the important aspects of sign language structure, even to the most unfamiliar of readers. A text that will be useful to both specialists and general linguists, this book provides the first comprehension overview of the field.

95 citations

Book ChapterDOI
12 Jul 2013

91 citations

Journal ArticleDOI
23 Apr 2014-PLOS ONE
TL;DR: The authors investigated lexical variation in BSL numeral signs and found that younger signers were using a decreasing variety of regionally distinct variants, suggesting that levelling may be taking place.
Abstract: This paper presents results from a corpus-based study investigating lexical variation in BSL. An earlier study investigating variation in BSL numeral signs found that younger signers were using a decreasing variety of regionally distinct variants, suggesting that levelling may be taking place. Here, we report findings from a larger investigation looking at regional lexical variants for colours, countries, numbers and UK placenames elicited as part of the BSL Corpus Project. Age, school location and language background were significant predictors of lexical variation, with younger signers using a more levelled variety. This change appears to be happening faster in particular sub-groups of the deaf community (e.g., signers from hearing families). Also, we find that for the names of some UK cities, signers from outside the region use a different sign than those who live in the region.

83 citations

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: In this article, the authors consider variation in a class of signs in Australian and New Zealand Sign Languages that includes the signs think, name, and clever, and find that some of the particular factors at work, and the kinds of influence they have, appear to differ in these three signed languages.
Abstract: In this study, we consider variation in a class of signs in Australian and New Zealand Sign Languages that includes the signs think, name, and clever. In their citation form, these signs are specified for a place of articulation at or near the signer's forehead or above, but are sometimes produced at lower locations. An analysis of 2667 tokens collected from 205 deaf signers in five sites across Australia and of 2096 tokens collected from 138 deaf signers from three regions in New Zealand indicates that location variation in these signs reflects both linguistic and social factors, as also reported for American Sign Language (Lucas, Bayley, & Valli, 2001). Despite similarities, however, we find that some of the particular factors at work, and the kinds of influence they have, appear to differ in these three signed languages. Moreover, our results suggest that lexical frequency may also play a role.

82 citations

References
More filters
Book ChapterDOI

13,767 citations

MonographDOI
TL;DR: Hartley as discussed by the authors discusses the psychodynamics of orality of language in the context of the oral past and present, and the evolution of the human mind from oral to written language.
Abstract: John Hartley: Before Ongism: "To become what we want to be, we have to decide what we were" Orality & Literacy: The Technologization Of The Word Introduction Part 1: The orality of language 1. The literate mind and the oral past 2. Did you say 'oral literature'? Part 2: The modern discovery of primary oral cultures 1. Early awareness of oral tradition 2. The Homeric question 3. Milman Parry's discovery 4. Consequent and related work Part 3: Some psychodynamics of orality 1. Sounded word as power and action 2. You know what you can recall: mnemonics and formulas 3. Further characteristics of orally based thought and expression 4. Additive rather than subordinative 5. Aggregative rather than analytic 6. Redundant or 'copious' 7. Conservative or traditionalist 8. Close to the human lifeworld 9. Agonistically toned 10. Empathetic and participatory rather than objectively distanced 11. Homeostatic 12. Situational rather than abstract 13. Oral memorization 14. Verbomotor lifestyle 15. The noetic role of heroic 'heavy' figures and of the bizarre 16. The interiority of sound 17. Orality, community and the sacral 18. Words are not signs Part 4: Writing restructures consciousness 1. The new world of autonomous discourse 2. Plato, writing and computers 3. Writing is a technology 4. What is 'writing' or 'script'? 5. Many scripts but only one alphabet 6. The onset of literacy 7. From memory to written records 8. Some dynamics of textuality 9. Distance, precision, grapholects and magnavocabularies 10. Interactions: rhetoric and the places 11. Interactions: learned languages 12. Tenaciousness of orality Part 5: Print, space and closure 1. Hearing-dominance yields to sight-dominance 2. Space and meaning 3. Indexes 4. Books, contents and labels 5. Meaningful surface 6. Typographic space 7. More diffuse effects 8. Print and closure: intertextuality 9. Post-typography: electronics Part 6: Oral memory, the story line and characterization 1. The primacy of the story line 2. Narrative and oral cultures 3. Oral memory and the story line 4. Closure of plot: travelogue to detective story 5. The 'round' character, writing and print Part 7: Some theorems 1. Literary history 2. New Criticism and Formalism 3. Structuralism 4. Textualists and deconstructionists 5. Speech-act and reader-response theory 6. Social sciences, philosophy, biblical studies 7. Orality, writing and being human 8. 'Media' versus human communication 9. The inward turn: consciousness and the text John Hartley: After Ongism: The Evolution of Networked Intelligence

5,688 citations

Journal ArticleDOI
01 Jun 1977-Language
TL;DR: In this article, a distinction is drawn between self-correction and other-correction, i.e., correction by the speaker of that which is being corrected vs. correction by some "other".
Abstract: An "organization of repair' operates in conversation, addressed to recurrent problems in speaking, hearing, and understanding. Several features of that organization are introduced to explicate the mechanism which produces a strong empirical skewing in which self-repair predominates over other-repair, and to show the operation of a preference for self-repair in the organization of repair. Several consequences of the preference for self-repair for conversational interaction are sketched.* 1. SELF- AND OTHER-CORRECTION. Among linguists and others who have at all concerned themselves with the phenomenon of'correction' (or, as we shall refer to it, 'repair'; cf. below, ?2.1), a distinction is commonly drawn between 'selfcorrection' and 'other-correction', i.e. correction by the speaker of that which is being corrected vs. correction by some 'other'.l Sociologists take an interest in such a distinction; its terms-'self' and 'other'-have long been understood as central to the study of social organization and social interaction.2 For our concerns in this paper, 'self' and 'other' are two classes of participants in interactive social

3,925 citations

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: In this article, the authors integrate the results of the ethnographic and attitudinal components of the broader study into a specifically sociolinguistic analysis, focusing on speakers of varying bilingual abilities, and demonstrate how the incorporation of both functional and linguistic factors into a single model is necessary to account for code-switching behavior.
Abstract: This chapter is an attempt to integrate the results of the ethnographic and attitudinal components of the broader study into a specifically sociolinguistic analysis. It explores code-switching on a community-wide basis, focusing on speakers of varying bilingual abilities. The chapter demonstrates how the incorporation of both functional and linguistic factors into a single model is necessary to account for code-switching behaviour. The phenomenon of code-switching has been a point of contention in assessing community identity. While intellectuals have seen language mixture as constituting evidence of the disintegration of the Puerto Rican Spanish language and culture, community members themselves appear to consider various bilingual behaviours to be defining features of their identity. Code-switches provoked by lack of availability or utilized as an emblem of ethnic identity appear, then, to be only weak factors in speakers’ perception of their own behaviour.

1,604 citations

MonographDOI
01 Jan 1987

1,532 citations

Frequently Asked Questions (12)
Q1. What are the contributions mentioned in the paper "The sociolinguistics of sign languages" ?

The Sociolinguistics of Sign Languages is a study published by Cambridge University Press in 2004 and edited by Ceil Lucas who has been teaching a graduate level course entitled Sociolinguistics in Deaf Communities at Gallaudet University in Washington, DC since 1980s. In the book, there are six main areas to examine which are multilingualism, bilingualism, sociolinguistic variation, discourse analysis, language planning and policy and language attitudes. 

In the book, there are six main areas to examine which are multilingualism, bilingualism, sociolinguistic variation, discourse analysis, language planning and policy and language attitudes. 

He states that language planning activities occurring both in status planning and corpus planning serve five different functions which are language purification, language revitalization, language reform, language standardization and language modernization. 

While the most informative and useful chapters are multilingualism, bilingualism, discourse analysis and language attitudes; the less preferable topics are sociolinguistic variation and language planning and policy. 

Towards the end of the chapter, consequences and applications are discussed in the light of three fields which are positive or negative attitudes toward second language, employee’s hiring practices which is generally negative toward minority groups, unsuccessfulness of mass media and the most important field in terms of influence of attitudes on it which is education. 

Next topic being discussed is the role of ideology© International Association of Research in Foreign Language Education and Applied Linguistics – All rights reservedlinguistic pluralism, vernacularization and internationalization are discussed. 

As an explanation to this question it is said that language attitude measurement techniques have been divided into three categories which are content analysis, direct measurement and indirect measurement. 

after they add the relations of discourse and context, they explain the methodological approaches to discourse analysis which are speech act theory, interactional sociolinguistics, ethnography of communication, pragmatics, conversation analysis and variation analysis. 

When he first started his teaching, there were readings from 1960s and 1970s; however, new studies have been required with the growing importance of sign language community’s needs and empowerment. 

the language planning process is explained in three stages which are gathering information, determining of goals, strategies and outcomes and evaluating. 

At the end of the chapter, the relevance of discourse genre is stated in terms of weather being monologic or dialogic and taking into consideration the approaches stated above. 

Since all the ideas in the chapters are supported by a great number of studies, it is worth reading to have a wide general knowledge on the issues.