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In the shadow of a myth? Public discourses on the status of signed languages in Norway and Sweden
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Linguistics.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-8762-7118
2018 (English)Conference paper, Oral presentation with published abstract (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

This paper focuses on the similar approaches that frame the different contexts of the legal recognition accorded to signed languages in Sweden and Norway. It illustrates that factors other than formal legislation seem to be more influential when the status of signed languages and signed language ideologies are discussed. By comparing the legal recognition of Swedish Sign Language (SSL) and Norwegian Sign Language (NTS), including the general discussions related to them, it seems that NTS has enjoyed a stronger legal status as compared to SSL for two decades. This somewhat contradicts the story about Sweden as the first country in the world that accorded recognition to deaf peoples’ bilingualism and as a haven for people who use signed language. The paper presents a short history of the milestones in legislation (and the official recognition status) of signed languages in Sweden and Norway, and highlights some similarities and differences. Data focused upon include written documents like legal texts, deaf associations’ periodicals, etc. and interviews with former activists in the deaf communities in Norway and Sweden.

The various enactments and legislation implementations show that Sweden has been the frontrunner as far as public recognition of SSL is concerned, but that formally, it appears that Norway has a stronger and more wide-reaching legislation, especially with regards to the right to NTS acquisition for deaf children and their families. The analysis shows that legal recognition is not necessarily reflected in how people discuss the status of a specific signed language. Rather, it seems that Swedish people have been more active in using the “story of legislation” in the imagination and rhetoric about the deaf community (Anderson, 1983), when compared to the situation in Norway. The similarities in legislation, and the continued differences in popular discourses and representations of signed languages, reveal that looking at the level and scope of legal recognition of a signed language in a country, only partially reflects the acceptance and status of language in general.

Anderson, B. (1983). Imagined communities: reflections on the origin and spread of nationalism. London: Verso.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2018.
National Category
General Language Studies and Linguistics
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-158441OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-158441DiVA, id: diva2:1236402
Conference
Sociolinguistics Symposium 22. Crossing Borders: South, North, East, West, Auckland, New Zealand, June 27-30, 2018
Note

Part of Long Colloquium Language Studies and Deaf Studies (LSDS). Theoretically framed empirical contributions on languaging across time and space. Chair: Professor Sangeeta Bagga-Gupta, Jönköping University, Sweden. http://programme.exordo.com/ss22/delegates/presentation/476/

Available from: 2018-08-02 Created: 2018-08-02 Last updated: 2018-08-13Bibliographically approved

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CiteExportLink to record
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Citation style
  • apa
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