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Language planning: British Sign Language Science Signs Edinburgh University Tuesday 4 th March 2008.

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Presentation on theme: "Language planning: British Sign Language Science Signs Edinburgh University Tuesday 4 th March 2008."— Presentation transcript:

1 Language planning: British Sign Language Science Signs Edinburgh University Tuesday 4 th March 2008

2 Introduction Rachel O’Neill Lecturer in Deaf Education at Edinburgh University Lecturer in Deaf Education at Edinburgh University BSL Science Signs Project Manager BSL Science Signs Project Manager Gary Quinn Project Officer at Heriot-Watt University Project Officer at Heriot-Watt University Linguistic adviser for the BSL Science Signs Project Linguistic adviser for the BSL Science Signs Project

3 Background Some facts about British Sign Language (BSL) BSL is not a new language BSL is not a new language It was first described and named around 1980 It was first described and named around 1980 Not the same as English Not the same as EnglishMainstreaming More deaf children are now in mainstream schools More deaf children are now in mainstream schools Residential and mainstreamed schools Residential and mainstreamed schools 95% deaf children have hearing parents 95% deaf children have hearing parents Post-mainstreamed deaf children Post-mainstreamed deaf children ‘German’ teaching method Pre-1880 – sign language used Pre-1880 – sign language used Post-1880 – oral methods took over Post-1880 – oral methods took over Braidwood set up the UK’s first deaf school: Edinburgh 1760 Braidwood set up the UK’s first deaf school: Edinburgh 1760

4 Background Regional Variation Regional variation developed Regional variation developed BSL transmitted horizontally from Deaf children of Deaf families to deaf children from hearing families BSL transmitted horizontally from Deaf children of Deaf families to deaf children from hearing families Will this increase in variation continue now? Will this increase in variation continue now? Cochlear Implants Advanced hearing aids Advanced hearing aids Is it the answer to communications problems? Is it the answer to communications problems? Teacher of Deaf Language levels in BSL Language levels in BSL Communication Support Workers (CSWs) Specific subject signs Specific subject signs Level of communication skill Level of communication skill

5 BSL vocabulary in technical fields BSL hasn’t developed many scientific technical terms Disabled Students Allowance became available - university access Deaf printers / Deaf dental technicians College project to collect technical signs Resources for CSW training

6 BSL’s productive lexicon Visual features of the situation Visual metaphors Collection of signs in a sequence May be adopted more widely Gradually become simplified Parts of it reduced Moved to more neutral space E.g. Rome, Satellite, Space-shuttle, fax E.g. a non-terminating decimal

7 Aims of glossary project Create 250 science signs Split into three difference areas– ChemistryPhysicsBiologyIncludes: New signs Definitions in full BSL Fingerspelling patterns

8 Glossary project support Funded by the Scottish Government £25,000 for one year Two members from Scottish Sensory Centre (SSC) SSC funded by the Scottish Government SSC – CPD for teachers of deaf children and teachers of visually impaired children

9 First on the web? The project was not the first of its kind to be online Dundee and Wolverhampton Not exactly aimed at intermediate level Dundee aimed at school students Wolverhampton aimed to support deaf students at university level

10 Dundee’s website A number of initialised signs based on fingerspelling The deaf learner has to lipread to distinguish these initialised signs E.g. Exothermic and Endothermic (Dundee) Difficult for deaf children Given English words pretending to be BSL Don’t show the productive features of the BSL lexicon Subject to subject = more and more initialised English influenced vocabulary

11 Wolverhampton’s website Quite good and useful for us No definitions in BSL Native BSL users were involved Didn’t have improved signs to highlight the difference between them English influences the BSL lexicon, e.g. DESIGN- PERSON parallels -er designer, driver, learner Method is not discussed in detail on their site:

12 Who was involved and why? Gerry Hughes : (BA in Maths): involved in the mathematics project and a school teacher of deaf children; Dr Audrey Cameron (PhD in Chemistry): a school teacher of deaf children; John Denerley : (BSc Social work) Owner of a wildlife park; Mary Frances Dolan (BA in Biology): BSL & a school teacher of deaf children; Dr Mike Fox (PhD in Chemistry): a chemistry researcher;

13 Derek Roger (BA in Biology): a school teacher in London, originally from Scotland; Claire Leiper (BA in Biology and English): a freelance trainer; John Brownlie (BA in Physics): a multimedia specialist working with a Deaf organisation; Dr Colin Donnell (PhD in Physics): an astronomy researcher. Eileen Burns (BA in Physics): a school teacher of deaf children Who was involved and why?

14 Original plan Agreed that Chemistry group lead and influence the others. Suggested to start from definition and from that get to new signs. Decided to keep draft film of every sign and record reasons for our ideas. Suggested to put new signs on the bulletin board.

15 Research method – collect English terms needed for science in school First stage – collect English terms needed for science in school – collect and list existing signs. Second stage – collect and list existing signs. – group to evaluate the existing signs Third stage – group to evaluate the existing signs – group to discuss definitions of scientific concepts and use features of BSL to devise new BSL terms. Draft sign on web for group to evaluate. Fourth stage – group to discuss definitions of scientific concepts and use features of BSL to devise new BSL terms. Draft sign on web for group to evaluate. - create a definition in BSL and film it; use text books and the group’s science expertise. Fifth stage - create a definition in BSL and film it; use text books and the group’s science expertise. – put the definition and sign on the internet. Sixth stage – put the definition and sign on the internet. – translate the definitions into English. Seventh stage – translate the definitions into English.

16 Issues raised Some new signs developed quickly by informal subgroup while filming definitions Producing definitions difficult - how detailed? Follow a book? Standardisation is not necessarily good Bilingual access to the online dictionary – A to Z and handshape New signs came up in many definitions – allows deaf children to build up a concept network

17 Issues raised Interesting to see the morphology and sign roots e.g. chemical reaction etc. Another sign family – MASS, WEIGHT, DENSITY Another sign family – MASS, WEIGHT, DENSITY And VEIN, ARTERY, HEART And VEIN, ARTERY, HEART A lot of debate over the sign to use and we changed our minds e.g. INVERTEBRATE HABITAT – 2:1 mapping or 1:1 mapping? How will the project be received by teachers and children? How do other minority languages develop technical vocabulary?

18 In summary… Overall, we found that English was a very strong influence Unique features of this project – largely Deaf only team using BSL The team have achieved their target amount of signs after sensitive, careful agreement We are now engaged in evaluating the project by interviewing 25 deaf young people and teachers of deaf children. …which may help us plan for the next project.

19 Thank you


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