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Sign Language Research: 1980 to Present

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

In the mid-1900s, scholars such as Bernard Tervoort and William Stokoe were among the first to place signed languages under the microscope of linguists. Prior to the 1980s, most sign language research was perhaps driven by the need to prove that signed languages were genuine natural languages like other spoken languages. Most of the work conducted was related to American Sign Language (ASL). After the 1980s, most linguists did not need further convincing regarding the legitimacy of studying signed languages as actual languages, so signed languages started to be explored in their own right, sometimes using tools more appropriate for studying signed languages. And signed languages other than ASL were also studied. This entry briefly examines some of the trends after the 1980s.

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