This critical ethnographic account of the Yangon deaf community in Myanmar offers unique insights into the dynamics of a vibrant linguistic and cultural minority community in the region and also sheds further light on broader questions around language policy.
The book examines language policies on different scales, demonstrating how unofficial policies in the local deaf school and wider Yangon deaf community impact responses to higher level interventions, namely the 2007 government policy aimed at unifying the country’s two sign languages. Foote highlights the need for a critical and interdisciplinary approach to the study of language policy, unpacking the interplay between language ideologies, power relations, political and moral interests and community conceptualisations of citizenship. The study’s findings are situated within wider theoretical debates within linguistic anthropology, questioning existing paradigms on the notion of linguistic authenticity and contributing to ongoing debates on the relationship between language policy and social justice.
Offering an important new contribution to critical work on language policy, the book will be of particular interest to students and scholars in sociolinguistics, linguistic anthropology and language education.
Table of Contents
1. Introduction; 2. Deafness and Sign Language in Myanmar; 3. The Politics of Language in Myanmar; 4. Entering the Deaf Community: Language, Identity and Social Participation; 5. Negotiating Language and Reconstructing Identities: Language Policy at the Mary Chapman School; 6. Community Ideologies of Linguistic Authenticity and Their Political Function: Unofficial Community Language Policy; 7. Diverse Perspectives on Language, Equality and Citizenship; 8. Community Responses to the Myanmar Sign Language Standardisation Project; 9. Final Reflections
Ellen Foote is a researcher who received her PhD in Linguistics from the School of African and Oriental Studies (SOAS), University of London, in 2018.