SASLJ Vol. 2 No. 2 - Page 9

Revolution for Deaf People's Language Lillo-Martin Impact Eastman’s chapter in Baker and Battison (1980) describes some of the reactions at Gallaudet to Stokoe’s research and his publication of ‘Sign Language Structure’ in 1960. It seems that the reaction at first was not all favorable. Similarly, the field of linguistics seems not to have been sympathetic to his claims; a review of Stokoe’s monograph published in the journal Language in 1961 is extremely negative (Landar, 1961). Nevertheless, Stokoe persevered and published his Dictionary in 1965. Around that time, the reception to his work seems to have been improving, both at Gallaudet and in the field of linguistics: for example, Stokoe gave a Luncheon Address (presumably invited) on ‘Linguistic Description of Sign Languages’ at the Georgetown University Round Table in 1966. It is hard to judge how much of an immediate impact was made by the publication of a monograph in the University at Buffalo’s Occasional Papers series. Much of linguistic research in general, including for ASL, in the second half of the twentieth century was published in such ‘working papers’ or distributed as unpublished manuscripts; the inside cover indicates that 3000 copies were made of Stokoe’s work. By the early 1970’s, though, repercussions were widespread. As listed by Baker and Battison (1980), the Linguistics Research Laboratory was established at Gallaudet with Stokoe at its head in 1971, and that same year the first presentation on ASL was made at the Linguistic Society of America Annual Meeting (by James Woodward, who was also directly influenced by Stokoe; see Woodward’s chapter in Baker and Battison, 1980); the journal Sign Language Studies was started in 1972. In 1970 the Laboratory for Language and Cognitive Studies was established at the Salk Institute under the direction of Dr. Ursula Bellugi, and research on ASL conducted by lab members began appearing in prestigious journals in the early 1970’s (Cognition, Language, Cognitive Psychology). Numerous dissertations, research symposia, articles, presentations and other output validated Stokoe’s declaration that ASL is a language and can be studied linguistically. Internationally, signed language research started to develop in Europe in the 1970’s, though Battison’s recollections in 2000 indicate that it took more time for the linguistic approach to take hold there (e.g., Tervoort, who is often referenced as an earlier recognizer of signed languages than Stokoe, wrote in 1973 that he was not yet convinced by Stokoe’s argument). In the field of linguistics, signed languages are now widely recognized. Researchers look at every aspect of signed languages and there are growing numbers of different signed languages studied, using a wide variety of research methods. This is not to say that there is no ignorance or naivety; almost every talk to an audience of linguists who do not work on signed languages requires some overt mythbusting or at least subtle guidance to avoid misunderstanding. There is also a fair amount of insulation; mainstream linguists may recognize that signed languages exist, but they often do not try to understand or apply concepts from signed language linguistics to their own work. This is a challenge that signed language linguists need to continually work on. References Baker, C., & Battison, R. (1980). Sign language and the deaf community: Essays in honor of William C. Stokoe. Silver Spring, MD: National Association of the Deaf. SASLJ, Vol. 2, No. 2 – Fall/Winter 2018 9