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Sign Language Literature

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

Language and literature cannot survive without each other. They are closely intertwined for linguistic and cultural survival, maintenance, and vitality. Language is the medium of literature while literature is the most sophisticated demonstration of language. Literature is fundamental for our existence because it reflects our existence in it.

Every signed language in the world has a literature of its own. The members of a signed language community pass on their language, values, tradition, and wisdom from generation to generation “orally” or “through space” (used by Ben Bahan). Their literature provides a vital basis for developing literacy skills.

Using American Sign Language (ASL) literature as an example, before the advent of video technology to record literary works in ASL, ASL culture was considered “oral” because it was ...

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