Deaf cosmopolitanism: calibrating as a moral process

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17 Citations (Scopus)
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Cosmopolitanism theory was mostly developed separately from the study of multilingualism: while language is central to cosmopolitanism as a practice, only a few scholars focusing on cosmopolitanism have taken a language-centred approach. We further theorise the relationship between cosmopolitanism and translingual practice with our focus on morality in relation to the use of the semiotic repertoire. The use of resources of the semiotic repertoire in translingual practice is infused with morality in that resources (such as languages, individual signs, mouthing, fingerspelling alphabets) are value laden and have particular associations or meanings in a given context. We explore and define deaf cosmopolitanism by offering examples from three international settings: deaf tourism in Bali, a sign language conference in Brazil, and a Bible translation centre in Kenya. Deaf people engaging in international mobilities align in communication by what they call ‘calibrating’. In this process, mobile deaf people quickly adopt new semiotic resources by engaging in rapid, immersive and informal (sign) language learning, acquiring (bits of) new sign languages, mouthing, written words, and fingerspelling alphabets, and including them in their practice of calibrating. Our analysis centres language ideologies about these practices, demonstrating moral ideas about what strategies and semiotic resources are most appropriate in specific contexts and/or with/by whom.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)285-302
Number of pages18
JournalInternational Journal of Multilingualism
Issue number2
Early online date28 Feb 2021
Publication statusPublished - 3 Apr 2021


  • calibrating
  • cosmopolitanism
  • language practices
  • mobility
  • semiotic repertoires

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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