SASLJ Vol. 2 No. 2 - Page 21

Sign Language Structure Stokoe, Jr. a word more or less distantly related semantically to the WFD entry. This flexibility of sign- concept relation many account for the phenomena observed by the writers (Dr. Cesare Magarotto and Mr. Dragoljub Vukotic): ‘During the numerous meetings and international congresses held these last ten years, the deaf-mutes of different countries and continents have been able to hold conversations on different topics with the sign language, understanding each other without the least help of an interpreter’ (p. vii). 0.2. The application of the techniques of the sociologist and cultural anthropologist to the linguistic community formed by the deaf is as new as structural analysis of their language. Much of the information about the group which is desirable as a background for strictly linguistic analysis is lacking, but the writer is most fortunate to have been associated in the first years of the new Gallaudet College research program with Dr. Andres S. Lunde whose paper ‘The sociology of the deaf’ is the pioneer work in the field. Dr. Lunde has graciously permitted the quotation of substantially all of this paper, first presented at the 1956 meeting of the American Sociological Society in Detroit. Its information is most pertinent here and its delineation of areas where research is needed may lead to further collaboration of sociologist and linguist. He writes: ‘The deaf as a group fall into a completely unique category in society because of their unusual relation to the communication process and their subsequent adjustment to a social world in which most interpersonal communication is conducted through spoken language. No other group with a major physical handicap is so severely restricted in social intercourse. Other handicapped persons, even those with impaired vision, may normally learn to communicate through speech and engage in normal social relations. Congenitally deaf persons and those who have never learned speech through hearing (together representing the majority of the deaf population) never perceive or imitate sounds. Speech must be laboriously acquitted and speechreading, insofar as individual skill permits, must be substituted for hearing if socially approved intercommunication is to take place. The rare mastery of these techniques never fully substitutes for language acquisition through hearing. ‘With his acoustical impairment as a background, the deaf person undergoes certain conditioning social experiences which separate him from the hearing and tend to make him a member of a distinct sub-cultural or minority group.... The sociology of the physically handicapped is a neglected field; a few texts barely touch upon this subject and then, in the case of the deaf, often inaccurately. Only a handful of articles pertaining to the role of the physically handicapped in society has appeared in sociological journals.... ‘The deaf may be identified as a group for sociological purposes. They are to be distinguished from those who are ‘‘hard of hearing’’, or those of partial hearing who can hear with the use of mechanical or electronic hearing aids, and those who become deaf late in life after having acquired speech through hearing and associated, in normal communication, with hearing persons. By and large, the deaf group as a whole never used hearing for speech. The available evidence, which is incomplete, seems to indicate that approximately 39 per cent of the total deaf population was born deaf, that another 19 per cent became deaf by the end of two years of life and that an additional 28 per cent became deaf between the ages of three and five (Best, 1943). This means that approximately 58 per cent of the deaf never used hearing for speech and that 86 per cent of the total deaf population was deaf by age five. The social implications of this fact are SASLJ, Vol. 2, No. 2 – Fall/Winter 2018 21