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Linguistic Genocide

  • By: Tove Skutnabb-Kangas
  • In: The SAGE Deaf Studies Encyclopedia
  • Edited by: Genie Gertz & Patrick Boudreault
  • Subject:Physical Disabilities, Otorhinolaryngology (Ears, Nose, & Throat)

The concept of genocide makes most people think about the physical killing of a group of people. This article examines the five definitions of genocide in the United Nations Genocide Convention (1948) and shows that two of the definitions apply to certain types of minority education and include the education of deaf people, who constitute a linguistic minority. Indeed, in what follows, a claim is made that much of the education of deaf children today constitutes a form of linguistic genocide educationally, psychologically, sociologically, and linguistically.

The education of Indigenous/tribal/minority/minoritized (hereafter ITM) children, can, historically and to a large extent also today, be seen as genocide if it is conducted using a dominant language as a teaching language in submersion (sink-or-swim) programs. These programs represent subtractive ...

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