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Sign Language: Pacific Region

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

In modern times, the islands of the Pacific are dominated by the sign languages brought by colonial powers, such as American Sign Language (ASL) and Australian Sign Language—these languages are used by vibrant Deaf communities from Malaysia to the American state of Hawaii, and in many of these countries, they are the medium of education for the Deaf. In addition, there is evidence of indigenous sign languages predating these foreign sign languages; fortunately, some indigenous languages remain today, despite their fragile status as minority languages within the landscape of sign languages, which are themselves already minority languages. In these respects, the Pacific is much like the rest of the world. In others, the geography and cultures of the Pacific have shaped unique sign languages and ...

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