Chapter

Sign Language Geography

Carol A. Padden

in Deaf around the World

Published in print November 2010 | ISBN: 9780199732548
Published online January 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199866359 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199732548.003.0001
Sign Language Geography

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There are multiple difficulties in knowing how many sign languages exist and in determining which are genetically related. This chapter compares the situation in North America with that of the Middle East. By looking at the rare remarks about sign languages from a hundred years ago and more, and the growth and dissemination of new sign languages (such as Nicaraguan Sign and Al-Sayyid Bedouin Sign Language), we begin to understand how sign languages interact and to what extent the notion “genetically related” is useful in discussing the relationships between them. Comparisons allow us to see how the pattern of sign language distribution is deeply linked to political, cultural and social factors that influence how signers have contact with one another.

Keywords: sign language geography; North America; Middle East; sign language distribution; sign language linguistics; Nicaraguan Sign Language; Al-Sayyid Bedouin Sign Language

Chapter.  8360 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Language Teaching and Learning

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