One Village, Two Sign Languages: Qualia, Intergenerational Relationships and the Language Ideological Assemblage in Adamorobe, Ghana

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Abstract

“Adamorobe signing is sweet,” “The signing in Adamorobe is hard,” “Adamorobe’s deaf people should sign in an eye‐hard way.” These are discourses about signing in Adamorobe Sign Language (AdaSL), a sign language used in Adamorobe, an Akan farmer village in southern Ghana distinguished by a history of hereditary deafness. By calling AdaSL sweet, hard and so on, deaf people in Adamorobe attribute qualia (sensuous qualities which can include hardness, lightness, dryness, and so on) to different forms of signing. Based on fieldwork stints in Adamorobe spread over a period of 10 years, I analyze how qualic evaluations of AdaSL are expressed differently by deaf people from different generations who have had different rates of exposure to Ghanaian Sign Language in addition to AdaSL. Qualic evaluations of AdaSL are related to qualic evaluations of behavior (Gal 2013; Harkness 2015): there are parallels in discourses about AdaSL being hard and deaf people being hard of character and being hardworking strong farmers. Qualic evaluations of language and social relationships permeate discourses about intergenerational differences, constituting a recurrent theme in the language ideological assemblage (i.e., clusters of language ideologies and other ideologies that impact on language) (Kroskrity 2018).
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Linguistic Anthropology
Early online date11 Nov 2019
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 11 Nov 2019

Keywords

  • bilingualism
  • generations
  • language ideologies
  • qualia
  • sign language

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language

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