Skip to main content

Signed languages and globalization

  • Anja Hiddinga (a1) and Onno Crasborn (a2)

Deaf people who form part of a Deaf community communicate using a shared sign language. When meeting people from another language community, they can fall back on a flexible and highly context-dependent form of communication called international sign, in which shared elements from their own sign languages and elements of shared spoken languages are combined with pantomimic elements. Together with the fact that there are few shared sign languages, this leads to a very different global language situation for deaf people as compared to the situation for spoken languages and hearing people as analyzed in de Swaan (2001). We argue that this very flexibility in communication and the resulting global communication patterns form the core of deaf culture and a key component of the characterization of deaf people as “visual people.” (Globalization, sign language, international sign, Deaf culture, language contact, multilingualism)*

Hide All
Allsop, Lorna (1993). The international sign project. In Fischer, Renate & Vollhaber, Thomas (eds.) Collage: Works on international deaf history, 2128. Hamburg: Signum.
Allsop, Lorna; Woll, Bencie; & Brauti, Jon Martin (1995). International sign: The creation of an international deaf community and sign language. In Bos, Heleen & Schermer, Trude (eds.), Sign language research 1994, 171–88. Hamburg: Signum.
Bahan, Benjamin (2008). Upon the formation of a visual variety of the human race. In Bauman, H.-Dirksen L. (ed.), Open your eyes: Deaf studies talking, 8399. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
Bauman, Zygmunt (1997). Postmodernity and its discontents. London: Routledge.
Baynton, Douglas; Gannon, Jack; & Bergey, Jean Lindquist (2007). Through deaf eyes: A photographic history of an American community. Washington, DC: Gallaudet University Press.
Beck, Ulrich (1992). The risk society: Toward a new modernity. London: Sage.
Blommaert, Jan (2003). Commentary: A sociolinguistics of globalization. Journal of Sociolinguistics 7(4):607–23.
Blommaert, Jan (2010). The sociolinguistics of globalization. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Blume, Stuart (2010). The artificial ear: Cochleair implants and the culture of deafness. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.
Boyes Braem, Penny, & Sutton-Spence, Rachel (eds.) (2001). The hands are the head of the mouth: The mouth as articulator in sign languages. Hamburg: Signum.
Branson, Jan; Miller, Don; & Marsaja, I. Gede (1996). Everyone here speaks sign language, too: A deaf village in Bali, Indonesia. In Lucas, Ceil (ed.), Multicultural issues of sociolinguistics in deaf communities, 3960. Washington, DC: Gallaudet University Press.
Castells, Manuel (2000). The information age: Economy, society and culture. Oxford: Blackwell.
Coupland, Nikolas (2003). Introduction: Sociolinguistics and globalization. Journal of Sociolinguistics 7(4):465–72.
Crasborn, Onno (2006). International contacts between deaf people: What is ‘international sign’? Paper presented at the 1st conference on Language Contact in Times of Globalization, Groningen, The Netherlands, September 2006.
de Swaan, Abraham (2001). Words of the world: The global language system. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Giddens, Anthony (1990). The consequences of modernity. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.
Giddens, Anthony (1991). Modernity and self-identity: Self and society in the late modern age. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Gordon, Raymond G. Jr. (ed.) (2005). Ethnologue: Languages of the world. 15th edn.Dallas, TX: SIL International.
Grosjean, François (2010). Bilingual: Life and reality. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Hale, Ken; Krauss, Michael; Watahomigie, Lucille J.; Yamamoto, Akira Y.; Craig, Colette; Jeanne, LaVerne Masayesva; & England, Nora C. (1992). Endangered languages. Language 68(1):142.
Haualand, Hilde (2007). The two-week village: The significance of sacred occasions for the deaf community. In Ingstad, Benedicte & Whyte, Susan R. (ed.), Disability in local and global worlds, 3355. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Haualand, Hilde (2008). Sound and belonging: What is a community? In Bauman, H.-Dirksen L. (ed.), Open your eyes: Deaf studies talking, 111–23. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
Johnson, Robert E. (1991). Sign language, culture and community in a traditional Yucatec Maya village. Sign Language Studies 73: 461–74.
Johnston, Trevor (2004). W(h)ither the Deaf community? Population, genetics and the future of Auslan (Australian Sign Language). American Annals of the Deaf 148:358–75.
Kerswill, Paul (2006). Migration and language. In Mattheier, Klaus, Ammon, Ulrich, & Trudgill, Peter (eds.), Sociolinguistics/Soziolinguistik: An international handbook of the science of language and society, vol. 3, 2nd edn., 2271–85. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter.
Ladd, Paddy (2003). Understanding deaf culture: In search of deafhood. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.
Lane, Harlan (1984). When the mind hears: A history of the deaf. New York: Random House.
Lane, Harlan; Hoffmeister, Robert J.; & Bahan, Benjamin (eds.) (1996). A journey into the deaf world. San Diego, CA: Dawn Sign Press.
Marsaja, I. G. (2008). Desa Kolok: A deaf village and its sign language in Bali, Indonesia. Nijmegen: Ishara Press.
McKee, David, & Kennedy, Graeme (2000). Lexical comparison of signs from American, Australian, British and New Zealand Sign Languages. In Emmorey, Karen & Lane, Harlan (eds.), The signs of language revisited: An anthology to honor Ursula Bellugi and Edward Klima, 4976. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
McKee, Rachel Locker, & Napier, Jemina (2002). Interpreting into international sign pidgin: An analysis. Sign Language & Linguistics 5(1):2754.
Miller, Christopher (1994). A note on notation. Signpost 7(3):191202.
Miller, Christopher (2001). Some reflections on the need for a common sign notation. Sign Language & Linguistics 4(1/2):1128.
Milroy, Lesley (2002). Introduction: Mobility, contact and language change – Working with contemporary speech communities. Journal of Sociolinguistics 7(1):315.
Monaghan, Leila (2003). A world eye's view: Deaf cultures in global perspective. In Monaghan, Leila, Schmaling, Constanze, Nakamura, Karen, & Turner, Graham H. (eds.), Many ways to be deaf: International variation in deaf communities, 125. Washington, DC: Gallaudet University Press.
Monteillard, Nathalie (2001). La langue des signes internationale. Acquisition et Interaction en Langue Etrangère 15:97115.
Morgan, Gary, & Woll, Bencie (2002). Directions in sign language acquisition. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
Morris, Michael A. (2004). Review of de Swaan (2001). Language in Society 33:620–24.
Murray, Joseph J. (2008). Coequality and transnational studies: Understanding deaf lives. In Bauman, H.-Dirksen L. (ed.), Open your eyes: Deaf studies talking, 100–10. London: University of Minnesota Press.
Nettle, Daniel, & Romaine, Suzanne (2000). Vanishing voices: The extinction of the world's languages. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Nonaka, Angela M. (2004). The forgotten endangered languages: Lessons on the importance of remembering from Thailand's Ban Khor Sign Language. Language in Society 33(5):737–67.
Nyst, Victoria (2007). A descriptive analysis of Adamorobe Sign Language. Amsterdam: University of Amsterdam dissertation.
Nyst, Victoria (2010). Sign languages in West Africa. In Brentari, Diane (ed.), Sign languages, 405–32. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Padden, Carol A., & Humphries, Tom (1988). Deaf in America: Voices from a culture. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Polich, Laura (2000). The search for proto-NSL: Looking for the roots of the Nicaraguan deaf community. In Lucas, Ceil (ed.), Bilingualism and identity in deaf communities, 255306. Washington, DC: Gallaudet University Press.
Pritchard, Pat (2005). Teaching Norwegian deaf pupils English as a foreign language in bilingual schools: Can deaf primary school pupils acquire and understand a foreign sign language as a first step in FLL? Paper presented at the Instructional Technology and Education of the Deaf Symposium, National Technical Institute for the Deaf, Rochester, New York, June 2005.
Quinto-Pozos, David G. (2008). Sign language contact and interference: ASL and LSM. Language in Society 37(2):161–89.
Rathmann, Christian; Mathur, Gaurav; & Boudreault, Patrick (2000). Amsterdam Manifesto. Das Zeichen 14:654–55.
Romaine, Suzanne (1995). Bilingualism. 2nd edn.Oxford: Blackwell.
Rosenstock, Rachel (2004). An investigation of international sign: Analyzing structure and comprehension. Washington, DC: Gallaudet University dissertation.
Sandler, Wendy; Meir, Irit; Padden, Carol A.; & Aronoff, Mark (2005). The emergence of grammar: Systematic structure in a new language. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 102(7):2661–65.
Senghas, Ann (1995). Children's contribution to the birth of Nicaraguan Sign Language. Cambridge, MA: MIT dissertation.
Senghas, Ann; Kita, Sotaro; & Özyürek, Asli (2004). Children creating core properties of language: Evidence from an emerging sign language in Nicaragua. Science 305(5691):1779–82.
Skuttnab-Kangas, Tove (2000). Linguistic genocide in education—or world-wide diversity and human rights? Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
Stokoe, William C. (1960). Sign language structure: An outline of the visual communication systems of the American deaf. Silver Spring, MD: Linstok Press.
Supalla, Ted, & Webb, Rebecca (1995). The grammar of international sign: A new look at pidgin languages. In Emmorey, Karen & Reilly, Judy S. (eds.), Language, gesture & space, 333–52. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
Sutton, Valerie (1999). SignWriting: On the occasion of the 25th anniversary, November 1999. Sign Language & Linguistics 2(2):271–82.
Tervoort, Bernard (1953). Structurele analyse van visueel taalgebruik binnen een groep dove kinderen. Amsterdam: University of Amsterdam dissertation.
Thoutenhoofd, Ernst (1992). Trans-scribing and reading: What constitutes a writing system? Signpost 4(2):3951.
Trudgill, Peter (1986). Dialects in contact. Oxford: Blackwell.
Tsunoda, Tasaku (2005). Language endangerment and language revitalization. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.
Webb, Rebecca, & Supalla, Ted (1994). Negation in international sign. In Ahlgren, Inger, Bergman, Brita, & Brennan, Mary (eds.), Perspectives on sign language structure: Papers from the 5th International Symposium on Sign Language Research, Vol. 1, Salamanca, Spain, 25–30 May 1992, 173–86. Durham, NC: ISLA.
Woll, Bencie; Sutton-Spence, Rachel; & Elton, Francis (2001). Multilingualism: The global approach to sign languages. In Lucas, Ceil (ed.), The sociolinguistics of sign languages, 832. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Woodward, James (1972). Implications for sociolinguistic research among the deaf. Sign Language Studies 1:17.
World Federation of the Deaf (1975). Gestuno: International sign language of the deaf/Langage gestuel internaional des sourds. Carlisle: The British Deaf Association.
Zeshan, Ulrike (2004a). Hand, head, and face: Negative constructions in sign languages. Linguistic Typology 8:158.
Zeshan, Ulrike (2004b). Interrogative constructions in signed languages: Cross-linguistic perspectives. Language 80:739.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Language in Society
  • ISSN: 0047-4045
  • EISSN: 1469-8013
  • URL: /core/journals/language-in-society
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 6
Total number of PDF views: 178 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 514 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 19th July 2018. This data will be updated every 24 hours.