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Language: Oralism Versus Manualism

  • By: Thomas P. Horejes & Catherine O’Brien
  • In: The SAGE Deaf Studies Encyclopedia
  • Edited by: Genie Gertz & Patrick Boudreault
  • Subject:Physical Disabilities, Otorhinolaryngology (Ears, Nose, & Throat)

Language plays a critical role in understanding the social constructs defining what it means to be human. In any society, language is a driving mechanism in the development and maintenance of personal and group identity. Society also plays a powerful role in creating the social constructs that drive language perception and, in turn, the type of culture in which one ought to thrive. The diversity of linguistic attitudes found among various societies leads to predetermined language placements, especially for minorities. When one language becomes a form of privilege, it often becomes a socially constructed tool that defines normality; this leads to inequality. Such predeterminations lead to dichotomies that reinforce the “normal” language and lead to narrow social constructs that relegate other languages to a secondary, ...

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