Gallaudet University Press

6:12 Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Aligning the Sociolinguistic Stars

A New Volume Explores Sociolinguistics
in Various European Deaf Communities

To the Lexicon and Beyond: Sociolinguistics in European Deaf Communities, volume 10 of the Sociolinguistics in Deaf Communities series is “centered around sociolinguistic research in European Deaf communities,” say the editors Mieke Van Herreweghe and Myriam Vermeerbergen. “The initial idea arose at Sociolinguistics Symposium 14, which was held at Ghent University, Belgium, in April 2002, where [series editor] Ceil Lucas was one of the keynote speakers. The present volume includes a number of papers that were presented at the symposium, as well as a number of nonsymposium works. We believe that the contributions from Finland, Belgium, Ireland, the Netherlands, Germany, Sweden, Spain, and the United Kingdom provide a good overall picture of current sociolinguistic research in European sign languages.”

Five distinctive parts divide this collection of essays — Multilingualism and Language Contact; Variation; Language Policy and Planning; Language in Deaf Education; and Language Attitudes. The internationally noted contributors explore topics ranging from multilingualism and language contact among Finland-Swedish Deaf people to data on language attitudes, including a census of sign language users in Spain that reveal a changing language community. You can read a paper from Graham H. Turner on British Deaf communities in part five. And, by using your exclusive subscriber discount, save 20% off the regular price when you order To the Lexicon and Beyond today.

A growing number of researchers agree that not only deaf children but also hearing children can benefit from early exposure to sign language, often learning basic signs as early as nine months old, before they learn spoken words. With Teach Your Tot to Sign: The Parents’ Guide to American Sign Language, by Stacey A. Thompson, parents and teachers have another resource to teach American Sign Language (ASL) signs to infants, toddlers, and young children. This pocket-size book includes signs for over 500 basic vocabulary words like “dinosaur,” “wagon,” “pacifier,” “spaghetti,” “you’re welcome,” and even “McDonalds.” It is easily portable, and can be carried anywhere.

Thompson, who teaches ASL to parents of hard of hearing infants and special needs children, and preschool teachers, shares her passion for children by stating: “This book will enable adults to communicate with young children, regardless of their hearing ability. Many children can benefit from using ASL, including (but not limited to) deaf children, children with special needs or speech delays, and children who are learning English as a second language. Hearing infants and toddlers can benefit as well—by using signs, they can learn to communicate with their parents before they are able to speak. It is my hope that this book helps to open the pathway of communication between young children and the adults who care for them.” Order your copy here.

A recent review from the Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education offers accolades for What’s Your Sign for PIZZA? An Introduction to Variation in American Sign Language by Ceil Lucas, Robert Bayley, and Clayton Valli. “Considering all that the book has to offer, What’s Your Sign for PIZZA? would be meaningful for those in the field of interpreting and interpreter education, ASL instructors, and other individuals who have a desire to deepen their understanding of variation and its influence on the evolution of ASL. Readers will gain insight into what constitutes variation, the different types, and potential reasons for why and how variation has developed over the years. Above all, this book gives strong justification for the importance of further research into the area of sociolinguistic variation in ASL.” This introductory text is based on a comprehensive research project that lasted seven years and includes signs from more than 200 Deaf ASL users representing different ages, genders, and ethnic groups from seven different regions across the country. Read chapter four, “Phonological Variation,” for a closer look at alternative ways of signing the same thing and order What’s Your Sign for PIZZA?.

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