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Text & Talk

An Interdisciplinary Journal of Language, Discourse & Communication Studies

Ed. by Sarangi, Srikant

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Volume 30, Issue 2


Deaf perspectives on communicative practices in South Africa: institutional language policies in educational settings

Mieke Van Herreweghe / Myriam Vermeerbergen
  • Corresponding author
  • Assistant Professor Flemish Sign Language (VGT) at Lessius University College (Antwerp, Belgium) and Affiliated Researcher at the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven.
  • Other articles by this author:
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Published Online: 2010-03-19 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/text.2010.007


This article reports on a study into communicative practices in educational settings by members of the South African Deaf community. The data contain interviews of miscellaneous South African Deaf people who were interviewed through South African Sign Language (SASL) by Deaf SASL users who received a short training on interview simulation. From the narratives a general prevalence of communicative barriers in educational settings emerges. Similar to many other Deaf communities, Deaf identities appear to be shaped by means of alienation from the hearing community and solidarity among the Deaf community (to a certain extent even across ethnic boundaries). The communication barriers lead to different dimensions of power relations. Moreover, certain educational practices extend beyond the school premises and influence family practices. What also emerged from the South African data were issues of stigmatization of signing and complex issues of communication in South Africa's multilingual society. Linguistic ethnography has proven a very productive methodology as it has yielded interesting “counter-narratives” (i.e., narratives from within the Deaf community that give a different picture than the beliefs put forward within a hearing hegemony) by means of which Deaf South Africans get “a voice” in mainstream society.

Keywords:: South Africa; Deaf community; South African Sign Language; educational communicative practices

About the article

Ghent University, English Department, Rozier 44, B-9000 Ghent, Belgium 〈

Department of Applied Language Studies, Lessius/K. U. Leuven, Sint Andriesstraat 2, B-2000 Antwerp, Belgium 〈

Published Online: 2010-03-19

Published in Print: 2010-03-01

Citation Information: Text & Talk - An Interdisciplinary Journal of Language, Discourse & Communication Studies, Volume 30, Issue 2, Pages 125–144, ISSN (Online) 1860-7349, ISSN (Print) 1860-7330, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/text.2010.007.

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Ruth Z Morgan
Southern African Linguistics and Applied Language Studies, 2014, Volume 32, Number 3, Page 255

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