Journal Article

Sign Language Structure: An Outline of the Visual Communication Systems of the American Deaf

William C. Stokoe

in The Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education

Volume 10, issue 1, pages 3-37
Published in print January 2005 | ISSN: 1081-4159
Published online January 2005 | e-ISSN: 1465-7325 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/deafed/eni001
Sign Language Structure: An Outline of the Visual Communication Systems of the American Deaf

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It is approaching a half century since Bill Stokoe published his revolutionary monograph, Sign Language Structure: An Outline of the Visual Communication Systems of the American Deaf. It is rare for a work of innovative scholarship to spark a social as well as an intellectual revolution, but that is just what Stokoe's 1960 paper did. And it is indicative both of Stokoe's genius and of his commitment that he did not simply publish his groundbreaking work and then sit back to watch the revolutions unfold. He actively promoted important changes in at least three areas of social and intellectual life. First, and perhaps most important, his work, that was ultimately generally accepted as showing the signing of deaf people to be linguistic, supported significant changes in the way deaf children are educated around the globe. Second, his work led to a general rethinking of what is fundamental about human language; and, third, it helped to reenergize the moribund field of language origin studies. This truly revolutionary paper has been reprinted at least twice, in revised and original versions, since its initial release in 1960, and now, five years after Bill's death, it is good to see it once again brought before the general public. – David F. Armstrong, Gallaudet University

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Subjects: Education ; Linguistics ; Teaching of Specific Groups and Special Educational Needs

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