Standardization of Sign Languages

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17 Citations (Scopus)


Over the years attempts have been made to standardize sign languages. This form of language planning has been tackled by a variety of agents, most notably teachers of Deaf students, social workers, government agencies, and occasionally groups of Deaf people themselves. Their efforts have most often involved the development of sign language books with lists of signs in alphabetical order (as distinct from sign language principles) and more recently as CD-ROMs, DVDs, or websites. With regard to the all-important question about language standardization, Karin Hoyer asks, “Who is behind the effort?” and goes on to say that “standardization actions (often with the aim of reducing lexical variation) have frequently been undertaken with the strong support of the hearing-run education system—from outside, often without any support from the language users themselves” (2012, 32). Today, sign language planning is still carried out largely by hearing professionals; thus, that standardization still needs to be examined in relation to “language ownership” (Eichmann 2009).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)432-445
Number of pages14
JournalSign Language Studies
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2015


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