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Deaf Culture, Identity, Language, and Arts
Cochlear implants, mainstreaming, genetic engineering, and other ethical dilemmas confronting deaf people mandated a new, wide-ranging examination of these issues, fulfilled by Signs and Voices: Deaf Culture, Identity, Language, and Arts. This collection, carefully chosen from the 2004 Signs and Voices Conference, the Presidential Forum on American Sign Language at the Modern Language Association Convention, and other sources, addresses all of the factors now changing the cultural landscape for deaf people. To ensure quality and breadth of knowledge, editors Kristin A. Lindgren, Doreen DeLuca, and Donna Jo Napoli selected the work of renowned scholars and performers Shannon Allen, H-Dirksen L. Bauman, Adrian Blue, Brenda Jo Brueggemann, Teresa Blankmeyer Burke, Peter Cook, David P. Corina, Michael Davidson, Kristen Harmon, Tom Humphries, Sotaro Kita, Heather Knapp, Robert G. Lee, Irene W. Leigh, Kenny Lerner, Carol Neidle, Peter Novak, AslI Özyürek, David M. Perlmutter, Ann Senghas, and Ronnie Wilbur. Signs and Voices is divided into three sections—Culture and Identity, Language and Literacy, and American Sign Language in the Arts—each of which focuses on a particular set of theoretical and practical concerns. Also, the included DVD presents many of the performances from the Arts section. Taken together, these essays and DVD point to new directions in a broad range of fields, including cognitive science, deaf studies, disability studies, education, linguistics, literary criticism, philosophy, and psychology. This extraordinary showcase of innovative and rigorous cross-disciplinary study will prove invaluable to everyone interested in the current state of the Deaf community.
Religious Rhetoric and the Preservation of Sign Language
Current academic discourse frequently understates the role of religion in the development of the American Deaf community. In her new study, Tracy Ann Morse effects a sharp course correction by tracing the frequent use over time of religious rhetoric by members of the deaf community to preserve and support sign language. In Chapter One, Morse analyzes Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet’s use of religious references in his 1817 maiden address at the first American school for deaf students. She examines his and other speeches as examples of the intersection of education for deaf Americans and Protestant missionary efforts to convert them. In the second chapter, she presents the different religious perspectives of the two deaf education camps: Manualists argued that sign language was a gift from God, while Oralists viewed hand gestures as animal-like, indicative of lower evolutionary development. Chapter Three explores the religious rhetoric in churches, sanctuaries where sign language flourished and deaf members formed relationships. In the fourth chapter, Morse shows how deaf activist George Veditz signed using religious themes in his political films. She also comments on the impact of the bilingual staging of Big River: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, which began to change the hearing world’s opinion about the Deaf community. Morse concludes with speculation on the shifting terrain for deaf people due to technological innovations that might supplant religious rhetoric as a tool to support the Deaf community.
“The morning would come and I’d know that Adelaide, her face a mirror image of mine with her straight black hair and dark eyes, belonged to me, and that we belonged to this family who walked down Washtenaw Avenue, listening to people say about us and our parents, ‘Here come the Silents.’” --from The Silents Author Charlotte Abrams presents this proud family sketch early on in her memoir of life in Chicago with her sister and her deaf parents. Hers is a loving portrayal of how a close Jewish family survived the Depression and the home front hardships of World War II with the added complications of communication for her mother and father. Rich episodes detail history from a particularly acute point of view that entertain as they subtly inform. Her father, a former prizefighter, considered the gift of a radio an intrusion until he found that he could have his hearing daughters pantomime the Joe Louis - Billy Conn fight as it occurred. The Silents departs from other narratives about deaf parents and hearing children when the family discovers that Abrams’ mother is becoming blind. With resiliency, the family turned the secret, terrifying sorrow their mother felt at losing her only contact with the world into a quest for the best way to bring it back. Should she learn Braille? Should she use a cane? All of the old communication and day-to-day living routines had to be relearned. And through it all, the family and their neighbors, hearing and deaf, worked together to ensure that Abrams’ parents remained the close, vital members of the community that they had always been.
The culmination of a seven-year project, this volume provides a complete description of American Sign Language (ASL) variation. For four decades, linguists have studied how people from varying regions and backgrounds have different ways of saying the same thing. For example, in English some people say “test,” while others say “tes’”, dropping the final “t.” Noted scholars Ceil Lucas, Robert Bayley, and Clayton Valli led a team of exceptional researchers in applying techniques for analyzing spoken language variation to ASL. Their observations at the phonological, lexical, morphological, and syntactic levels demonstrate that ASL variation correlates with many of the same driving social factors of spoken languages, including age, socioeconomic class, gender, ethnic background, region, and sexual orientation. Internal constraints that mandate variant choices for spoken languages have been compared to ASL as well, with intriguing results. Sociolinguistic Variation in American Sign Language stands alone as the new standard for students and scholars committed to this discipline.
The first volume in the new Sociolinguistics in Deaf Communities series presents a rich collection of essays showcasing the breadth and depth of this exciting discipline. Topics of inquiry in the premiere volume include fingerspelling in Langue des Signes Quebecoise (LSQ) in Quebec, Canada; language used by a Navajo family with deaf children; language policy, classroom practice, and multiculturalism in deaf education; aspects of American Sign Language (ASL) discourse and of Filipino Sign Language discourse; and the nature and role of rhetorical language in Deaf social movements. Among the noted contributors are Dominique Machabee, Arlene Blumenthal-Kelly, Jeffrey Davis, Melanie Metzger, Samuel Supalla, Barbara Gerner de Garcia, Liza B. Martinez, Kathy Jankowski, and also Ceil Lucas. Sociolinguistics in Deaf Communities affords an invaluable opportunity to assess up-to-date information on sign language linguistics worldwide and its impact on policy and planning in education, interaction with spoken languages, interpreting, and the issues of empowerment.
Growing Up Black and Deaf in the South
“I began losing my hearing when I was about 8½ years old. By the age of ten, I was completely deaf. I decided to write my story because I wanted my children to have a lasting document that chronicled my experiences growing up as a deaf person in Iron Mine, North Carolina. I also decided to write my story for my many deaf friends because my story, in many ways, is also their story. There are many stereotypes that persist about deaf people. “This book roughly covers the period of time from the mid-1920s to the early 1940s, when I had to make the transition from a hearing world to one of total silence. The book describes my ongoing adjustment as I travel back and forth each year between my deaf world at the School for the Deaf and Blind and my ‘hearing’ world at home.” --From Mary Herring Wright’s Foreword to Sounds Like Home Mary Herring Wright’s story adds an important dimension to the current literature in that it is a story by and about an African American deaf child. Her story is unique and historically significant because it provides valuable descriptive information about the faculty and staff of the North Carolina school for Black deaf and blind students at that time from the perspective of a student as well as a student teacher. In addition, this engrossing narrative contains details about the curriculum, which included a week-long Black History celebration where students learned about important Blacks such as Madame Walker, Paul Laurence Dunbar, and George Washington Carver. It also describes the physical facilities as well as the changes in those facilities over the years. In addition, the story occurs over a period of time that covers two major events in American history, the Depression and World War II. Wright’s account is one of enduring faith, perseverance, and optimism. Her keen observations will serve as a source of inspiration for others who are challenged in their own ways by life’s obstacles.
Discourse in Deaf Communities
In this intriguing book, renowned sociolinguistics experts explore the importance of discourse analysis, a process that examines patterns of language to understand how users build cooperative understanding in dialogues. It presents discourse analyses of sign languages native to Bali, Italy, England, and the United States. Studies of internal context review the use of space in ASL to discuss space, how space in BSL is used to “package” complex narrative tasks, how signers choose linguistic tools to structure storytelling, and how affect, emphasis, and comment are added in text telephone conversations. Inquiries into external contexts observe the integration of deaf people and sign language into language communities in Bali, and the language mixing that occurs between deaf parents and their hearing children. Both external and internal contexts are viewed together, first in an examination of applying internal ASL text styles to teaching written English to Deaf students and then in a consideration of the language choices of interpreters who must shift footing to manage the “interpreter’s paradox.” Storytelling and Conversation casts new light on discourse analysis, which will make it a welcome addition to the sociolinguistics canon.
Essays in Honor of William C. Stokoe
In 1999, many of today’s notable researchers assembled at a special conference in honor of William C. Stokoe to explore the remarkable research that grew out of his original insights on American Sign Language. The Study of Signed Languages presents the fascinating findings from that conference. Part 1, Historical Perspectives, begins with a description of the decline of sign language studies in the 1800s. Past research on signed languages and its relationship to language origins theory follows, along with a consideration of modality and conflicting agendas for its study. In Part 2, Language Origins, the first entry intrigues with the possibility that sign language could answer conundrums posed by Noam Chomsky’s linguistic theories. The next essay considers how to build a better language model by citing continuity, ethology, and Stokoe’s work as key elements. Stokoe’s own research on the gestural theory of language origins is examined in the section’s closing chapter. Part 3, Diverse Populations, delineates the impact of sign language research on black deaf communities in America, on deaf education, on research into variation in sign language, and even on sign communication and the motor functioning of autistic children and others. In its wide-ranging, brilliant scholarship, The Study of Signed Languages serves as a fitting tribute to William C. Stokoe and his work.
Sociolinguistics in European Deaf Communities
Volume 10 of the series explores sociolinguistics in various European Deaf communities. Editors Van Herreweghe and Vermeerbergen present a wide array of research inspired by the Sociolinguistics Symposium 14 held at Ghent University, Belgium, in April 2002. Noted contributors from Finland, Belgium, Ireland, the Netherlands, Germany, Sweden, Spain and the United Kingdom offer insights gleaned from the languages of their countries. Part One of this five-part volume investigates multilingualism and language contact among Finland-Swedish Deaf People. Part Two looks at regional variation and the evolution of signs in Flemish Sign Language, as well as gender-influenced variation in Irish Sign Language. Language policy and planning receives consideration in the third part, with a study of sign language lexical variation in the Netherlands and an analysis of the risks of codification in Flemish Sign Language. Part Four examines the implementation of bilingual programs for deaf students throughout Europe, and updates research on visually oriented language use in Swedish Deaf education classrooms. The final part of To the Lexicon and Beyond: Sociolinguistics in European Deaf Communities presents data on language attitudes, including a census of sign language users in Spain that reveal a changing language community. The last chapter of this fascinating assembly assays British Deaf communities and language identity in relation to issues of transnationality in the 21st century.
As access for deaf people grows around the world, a new profession has begun to emerge as well, that of Deaf translators and interpreters (T/Is). In his new study Toward a Deaf Translation Norm, Christopher Stone explores this innovation, including its antecedents and how it is manifested in public places. Most importantly, Stone investigates whether or not a Deaf translation norm has evolved as increasing numbers of Deaf T/Is work in the mainstream translating for websites, public services, government literature, and television media. For his study, the sixth volume in the Studies in Interpretation series, Stone concentrated his research in the United Kingdom. Specifically, he examined the rendering of English broadcast television news into British Sign Language (BSL) by both Deaf and hearing T/Is. Segments of the data feature simultaneous Deaf and hearing in-vision T/I broadcasts. Recording these broadcasts produced a controlled product that enabled direct comparison of the Deaf and hearing T/Is. Close analysis of these examples revealed to Stone that Deaf T/Is not only employ a Deaf translation norm, they take labors to shape their BSL text into a stand-alone product rather than a translation. Ultimately, Toward a Deaf Translation Norm opens up engrossing new vistas on current deliberation about neutrality in translation and interpretation.