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Volume Nine: Issue One

Fall 2008

COMMENTARY
Posting Mabel

Brenda Jo Brueggemann
ARTICLES
A Fair Chance in the Race of Life: Thoughts on the 150th Anniversary of the Founding of the Columbia Institution

James M. McPherson

Abstract

A Lexical Comparison of Signs from Icelandic and Danish Sign Languages

Russell R. Aldersson and Lisa J. McEntee-Atalianis

Abstract

BOOK REVIEW
The Rising of Lotus Flowers: Self Education by Deaf Children in Thai Boarding Schools, by Charles B. Reilly and Nipapon W. Reilly

Leila Monaghan
BRIEF NOTICE
Gladys Tang (ed.), Hong Kong Sign Language: A Trilingual Dictionary with Linguistic Descriptions, The Chinese University Press, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, 2007
ABSTRACTS
A Fair Chance in the Race of Life: Thoughts on the 150th Anniversary of the Founding of the Columbia Institution

Developments in deaf education were influenced by broader social and cultural currents in American society. The United States has always been a pluralist nation, but the American majority has not always manifested a pluralist toleration for the integrity and value of minority cultures. There has always been a tension between the majority’s desire for the minorities’ assimilation to the mainstream culture and the resistance of various minorities to this pressure. At its best, this has been a creative tension in which each side has recognized and learned from the other. The history of deaf education has had its share of tensions and misunderstandings, but the creative tension between conformity and pluralism has helped to make the American deaf community the best educated in the world and to make Gallaudet University an institution without parallel.

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A Lexical Comparison of Signs from Icelandic and Danish Sign Languages

Russell R. Aldersson and Lisa J. McEntee-Atalianis This article reports on a comparison of lexical items in the vocabulary of Icelandic and Danish sign languages prompted by anecdotal reports of similarity and historical records detailing close contact between the two communities. Drawing on previous studies, including Bickford (2005), McKee and Kennedy (1998, 2000a, 2000b) and Parkhurst and Parkhurst (2001), the authors elicited signs via a word list adapted from Swadesh (1955) and modified by Woodward (1978, 1991) for the purpose of researching sign languages. The signs for 292 lexical items were analyzed by comparing the parameters of hand configuration (together with hand/palm orientation), location, and movement and classified as identical, similar, or different. The results reveal a high percentage of similarity. A much higher degree of lexical similarity appears in the realization of country names than in any other semantic category. The study contributes to work in the field of Nordic sign languages and has methodological implications for the study of sign language vocabulary internationally. Limitations of the study are noted.

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