Gallaudet University Press

12:9 Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Language Planning for the deafworld

A New Volume Explores Language Policy Efforts
and Planning for Sign Languages

“We are in a period during which an immense amount of language planning activity is taking place around the world related to sign language and the deaf,” states Timothy G. Regan, author of Language Policy and Planning for Sign Languages. “While much of this language planning is very positive in nature, not all of it is. In addition, the resistance to many efforts to gain recognition for sign languages—both official recognition and recognition for sign language as a medium of instruction in educational settings—is profoundly worrying, and demonstrates how far we have to go in many places and with many people in challenging traditional, and misguided, ideas about the nature of sign language, deafness, and the deaf community.” In Language Policy and Planning for Sign Languages, the 16th volume in the Sociolinguistics in Deaf Communities series, Reagan attempts to address an important and timely topic: language planning efforts and the related language policies that arise from these efforts for the sign languages used by deaf people.

In chapter 1, “Sign Language and the deafworld as a Special Case: An Overview,” Regan provides a general description of the deaf-world (the deaf cultural community), as well as a brief introduction to sign language, whereas in chapter 2, “Language Planning and Language Policy: An Introduction,” he provides a broad summary of the language planning and language policy literature as it has developed for spoken languages. In “American Sign Language, Language Planning, and Language Policy,” his third chapter, Reagan examines the specific case of American Sign Language (ASL), both in terms of the history of language planning and language policy related to ASL (both in the 19th century and in the post-Congress of Milan period), and in more recent years. Chapter 4, “The Creation and Use of Manual Sign Codes as Language Planning,” presents a detailed, and critical, examination of the creation of manual sign codes for use in deaf education, both in the United States and elsewhere. The next chapter, “International Perspectives on Sign Language, Language Planning, and Language Policy,” takes a much broader international view, examining language policy and language planning in settings around the world. Last, but not least, the final chapter offers a conclusion, including recommendations for future language planning efforts for sign languages.

Examine this new volume further in this excerpt from chapter one. Reserve Language Policy and Planning for Sign Languages at a 20% savings off the regular price. For online reservations, type “SEP2010” in the box labeled “use promo code” next to the checkout button, or reserve by mail.

Andrés Torres’ story, Signing in Puerto Rican: A Hearing Son and His Deaf Family, was recently highlighted in Reference and Research Book News: “Torres remembers his childhood in New York City, describing both the internal dynamics of the family—he and his two deaf parents—and interactions with the deaf community, the New York Puerto Rican community, and U.S. society as a whole. Both his parents were stalwarts in the Puerto Rican Society for the Catholic Deaf. Among his topics are a signing village, observing and learning, family truths, the whole world watching, God and marriage, a garden, and border crossings.” Torres, the only hearing member of his family, describes his early life as one of conflicting influences in his search for identity. Growing up in New York in a Deaf/hearing family that communicated freely in a mix of Spanish, ASL, and English, his journey never took him too far from his Deaf Puerto Rican family roots and the passion of arms, hands, and fingers filling the air with simultaneous translation and understanding. Read more about Torres’s unique family life in chapter 1, The A Train, and order Signing in Puerto Rican here.

Rain Taxi, a quarterly publication that reviews literary fiction, poetry, and nonfiction that push the boundaries of language, narrative, and genre, published a glowing review of Deaf American Poetry edited by John Lee Clark, stating: “In Deaf American Poetry, John Lee Clark has assembled a fascinating mix of poets who share little in common beyond the fact that they are deaf. Included is Clark’s well-written introduction, which was first published in Poetry, and an Editor’s Note that describes his unique project: ‘this book is not an anthology by just anyone who has a hearing loss; rather, it is drawn from the work of culturally Deaf people who belong to the signing community.’ This distinction is important, since it means that even the earliest poets featured here have had the ability to communicate with others who know the signs and symbols of ASL.” Read the complete review online. Deaf American Poetry showcases for the first time the best works of Deaf poets throughout the nation’s history. It includes 95 poems by 35 masters from the early 19th century to modern times. Read select poems, and order your copy today.

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