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The Work of William C. Stokoe
In 1955 William C. Stokoe arrived at Gallaudet College (later Gallaudet University) to teach English where he was first exposed to deaf people signing. While most of his colleagues dismissed signing as mere mimicry of speech, Stokoe saw in it elements of a distinctive language all its own. Seeing Language in Sign traces the process that Stokoe followed to prove scientifically and unequivocally that American Sign Language (ASL) met the full criteria of linguistics--phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics and use of language--to be classified a fully developed language. This perceptive account dramatically captures the struggle Stokoe faced in persuading the establishment of the truth of his discovery. Other faculty members ridiculed or reviled him, and many deaf members of the Gallaudet community laughed at his efforts. Seeing Language in Sign rewards the reader with a rich portrayal of an undaunted advocate who, like a latter-day Galileo, pursued his vision doggedly regardless of relentless antagonism. He established the Linguistics Research Laboratory, then founded the journal Sign Language Studies to sustain an unpopular dialogue until the tide changed. His ultimate vindication corresponded with the recognition of the glorious culture and community that revolves around Deaf people and their language, ASL.
Strategies for Extending Student Involvement in the Deaf Community
Institutions of higher learning around the nation have embraced the concept of student civic engagement as part of their curricula, a movement that has spurred administrators in various fields to initiate programs as part of their disciplines. In response, sign language interpreting educators are attempting to devise service-learning programs aimed at Deaf communities. Except for a smattering of journal articles, however, they have had no primary guide for fashioning these programs. Sherry Shaw remedies this in her new book Service Learning in Interpreter Education: Strategies for Extending Student Involvement in the Deaf Community. Shaw begins by outlining how to extend student involvement beyond the field experience of an internship or practicum and suggests how to overcome student resistance to a course that seems atypical. She introduces the educational strategy behind service-learning, explaining it as a tool for re-centering the Deaf community in interpreter education. She then provides the framework for a service-learning course syllabus, including establishing Deaf community partnerships and how to conduct student assessments. Service Learning in Interpreter Education concludes with first-person accounts from students and community members who recount their personal and professional experiences with service learning. With this thorough guide, interpreter education programs can develop stand-alone courses or modules within existing coursework.
A Natural History of Sign Language
Most scholarly speculation on the origin of human language has centered around speech. However, the growing understanding of sign languages on human development has transformed the debate on language evolution. David F. Armstrong’s new book Show of Hands: A Natural History of Sign Language casts a wide net in history and geography to explain how these visible languages have enriched human culture in general and how their study has expanded knowledge of the human condition. Armstrong addresses the major theories of language evolution, including Noam Chomsky’s thesis of an innate human “organ” for language and Steven Pinker’s contention that there is language and not-language without any gradations between gesture and language. This engrossing survey proceeds with William C. Stokoe’s revival of the early anthropological cognitive-linguistic model of gradual development through the iconicity of sign languages. Armstrong ranges far to reveal the nature of sign languages, from the anatomy of early human ancestors to telling passages by Shakespeare, Dickens, and Pound, to the astute observations of Socrates, Lucretius, and Abbé de l’Epée on sign communication among deaf people. Show of Hands illustrates the remarkable development of sign languages in isolated Bedouin communities and among Australian indigenous peoples. It also explores the ubiquitous benefits of “Deaf Gain” and visual communication as they dovetail with the Internet and its mushrooming potential for the future.
Understanding the Historical Roots of American Sign Language
This engrossing study investigates the infancy of American Sign Language (ASL). Authors Ted Supalla and Patricia Clark highlight the major events in ASL history, revealing much of what has not been clearly understood until now. According to tradition, ASL evolved from French Sign Language. The authors analyze the metalinguistic assumptions of these early accounts and also examine in depth a key set of films made by the National Association of the Deaf (NAD) between 1910 and 1920. Designed by the NAD to preserve classic ASL, the films feature 15 sign masters, the model signers of that time. In viewing these films, the authors discovered that the sign masters signed differently depending on their age. These variations provide evidence about the word formation process of early ASL, further supported by data collected from dictionaries of the 19th and early 20th centuries. By tracing the writings of selected individuals, this study reconstructs the historical context for early ASL grammar. It describes the language used in each century and how it changed, and focuses on the rediscovery of the literary legacy of the Deaf American voice. Sign Language Archaeology reveals the contrast between folk etymology and scientific etymology and allows readers to see ASL in terms of historical linguistics.
The second international conference on sign language research, hosted by Gallaudet University, yielded critical findings in vital linguistic disciplines -- phonology, morphology, syntax, sociolinguistics, language acquisition and psycholinguistics. Sign Language Research brings together in a fully synthesized volume the work of 24 of the researchers invited to this important gathering. Scholars from Belgium to India, from Finland to Uganda, and from Japan to the United States, exchanged the latest developments in sign language research worldwide. Now, the results of their findings are in this comprehensive volume complete with illustrations and photographs.
Vol. 1 (1972)-vol. 93 (1996); Vol. 1 (2000/01) through current issue
Sign Language Studies publishes a wide range of original scholarly articles and essays relevant to signed languages and signing communities. The journal provides a forum for the dissemination of important ideas and opinions concerning these languages and the communities who use them. Topics of interest include linguistics, anthropology, semiotics, Deaf culture, and Deaf history and literature.
This volume collects for the first time various accounts of contact between sign languages throughout the world, presenting an exciting opportunity to further understand the structural and social factors of this linguistic component in Deaf communities. Editor David Quinto-Pozos has divided Sign Languages in Contact into four parts, starting with Contact in a Trilingual Setting. The sole essay in this section features a study of Maori signs by Rachel McKee, David McKee, Kirsten Smiler, and Karen Pointon that reveals the construction of indigenous Deaf identity in New Zealand Sign Language. In Part Two: Lexical Comparisons, Jeffrey Davis conducts an historic, linguistic assessment of varieties of North American Indian sign languages. Daisuke Sasaki compares the Japanese Sign Language lexicon with that of Taiwan Sign Language by focusing on signs that share the same meaning and all parameters except for their handshapes. Judith Yoel’s chapter takes up the entirety of Part Three: Language Attrition, with her analysis of the erosion of Russian Sign Language among immigrants to Israel. The final part describes how educators and other “foreign”visitors can influence indigenous sign languages. Karin Hoyer delineates the effects of international sign and gesture on Albanian Sign Language. Jean Ann, Wayne H. Smith, and Chiangsheng Yu close this significant collection by assessing contact between Mainland China’s sign language and Taiwan Sign Language in the Ch’iying School in Taiwan.
Selected Papers from the First International Symposium
This first-of-its-kind volume contains ten papers from the 2013 International Symposium on Signed Language Interpreting and Translation Research that document current research on critical areas in interpretation and translation studies. The contributors cover topics ranging from the need for Deaf perspectives in interpretation research to discourse strategies and techniques that are unique to video relay call settings, translating university entrance exams from written Portuguese into Libras (Brazilian Sign Language), the linguistic choices interpreters make when working with idiomatic and figurative language, the nature of designated interpreting, and grammatical ambiguity in trilingual VRS interpreting. The research findings and insights contained here will be invaluable to scholars, students, and practitioners.
The ninth volume in the Studies in Interpretation series offers six succinct chapters on the state of signed language interpreting in Brazil by editors Ronice Müller de Quadros, Earl Fleetwood, Melanie Metzger and ten Brazilian researchers. The first chapter advocates for the affiliation of Brazilian Sign Language ( Libra) interpretation research with the field of Translation Studies to generate greater academic empowerment of Libras. The second chapter outlines how Brazilian sign language interpreters construct a position in discourse. Chapter 3 explores the possibility that bimodal, bilingual interpreters—hearing children of hearing adults—face unique cognitive tasks compared to unimodal bilingual interpreters. Chapter 4 describes how the systematic expansion and documentation of new academic and technical terms in Brazilian Sign Language, in which fingerspelling is uncommon, resulted in the development of an online glossary. The fifth chapter details the challenges of Libras interpreters in high schools. Chapter 6 concludes this revealing collection with findings on whether gender traits influence the act of interpretation of Brazilian Sign Language.
Discoveries from International Research
Signed Languages: Discoveries from International Research collects the thirteen freshest, most innovative papers presented at the sixth Theoretical Issues in Sign Language Research conference in 1998, the largest of its kind ever convened. Presented together in this timely compendium, the research reflects the current trend toward focusing on international signed languages that previously have been ignored, including those of Sweden, Israel, Venezuela, and northern Nigeria. The anthology is divided into six sections: Phonology, Morphology and Syntax, Psycholinguistics, Language Acquisition, Sociolinguistics, and Poetics. In Part One, articulatory constraints and the sign language of the Netherlands are addressed. In Part Two, researchers tackle noun classifiers, nonhanded signs, and verb classes in the signed languages of Sweden, the United States, and Israel respectively. Part Three offers the study, “Functional Consequences of Modality: Spatial Coding in Working Memory for Signs.” Language acquisition is analyzed in both adult learners and deaf children in Part Four. Part Five reports on the relationship between language and society around the world, focusing particularly on the signed languages of Venezuela and northern Nigeria. Part Six considers the techniques employed in British Sign Language poetry and ASL poetry. Edited by Valerie Dively, Melanie Metzger, Sarah Taub, and Anne Marie Baer, Signed Languages sets the pace on the current signed language research, becoming an essential resource for any linguist’s or deaf scholar’s library.