Sign Language: The Study of Deaf People and Their Language

Front Cover
Cambridge University Press, Feb 26, 1988 - Language Arts & Disciplines - 318 pages
The discovery of the importance of sign language in the deaf community is very recent indeed. This book provides a study of the communication and culture of deaf people, and particularly of the deaf community in Britain. The authors' principal aim is to inform educators, psychologists, linguists and professionals working with deaf people about the rich language the deaf have developed for themselves - a language of movement and space, of the hands and of the eyes, of abstract communication as well as iconic story telling. The first chapters of the book discuss the history of sign language use, its social aspects and the issues surrounding the language acquisition of deaf children (BSL) follows, and the authors also consider how the signs come into existence, change over time and alter their meanings, and how BSL compares and contrasts with spoken languages and other signed languages. Subsequent chapters examine sign language learning from a psychological perspective and other cognitive issues. The book concludes with a consideration of the applications of sign language research, particularly in the contentious field of education. There is still much to be discovered about sign language and the deaf community, but the authors have succeeded in providing an extensive framework on which other researchers can build, from which professionals can develop a coherent practice for their work with deaf people, and from which hearing parents of deaf children can draw the confidence to understand their children's world.
 

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Contents

Introduction
1
The deaf community
5
British Sign Language
24
Historical aspects of BSL
37
Sign language acquisition
58
The building blocks of sign language
82
The structure of signs
113
Sign morphology and syntax the grammar of BSL
131
Sign language in schools
230
Which sign language?
242
Developments for sign language
258
Growing up in the deaf community
263
Teaching sign language
269
BSL notation
277
References
291
Subject index
308

Comparing sign languages
162
Learning and using BSL
173
The psychology of sign
195
Sign language interpreting
216

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