Sociolinguistic Studies, Estudios de Sociolingüística 1.1 2000

Language contact phenomena in deaf communities

Ceil Lucas
Issued Date: 5 Mar 2007


Sociolinguistic research in deaf communities has been shaped by at least four interrelated considerations: (1) the relationship between the spoken language of the majority of the community and sign language, mainly in educational settings; (2) the limited knowledge of the linguistic structure of the sign language; (3) doubts as to the status of the sign language as a "real language"; and (4) the application of spoken language sociolinguistic models to sign language situations. This paper will focus specifically on language contact phenomena in deaf communities. Firstly, the general effect of each of these four considerations will be discussed, and a model of language contact phenomena will be presented, making the distinction between the outcomes of contact between two sign languages, and the outcomes of contact between a sign language and a spoken language. Secondly, the findings of an investigation of language contact in the American deaf community will be presented and discussed as they pertain to these four considerations. And thirdly, this paper will suggest directions for future research on the sociolinguistics of deaf communities.

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DOI: 10.1558/sols.v1i1.145


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