Describe, don’t prescribe: The practice and politics of translanguaging in the context of deaf signers

Autor/a: DE MEULDER, Maartje; KUSTERS, Annelies; MORIARTY, Erin; MURRAY, Joseph J.
Año: 2019
Editorial: Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development (2019)
Tipo de código: Copyright
Soporte: Digital


Comunidad y cultura sorda, Formación, Traducción e Interpretación


In this article we discuss the practice and politics of translanguaging in the context of deaf signers. Applying the translanguaging concept to deaf signers brings a different perspective by focusing on sensorial accessibility. While the sensory orientations of deaf people are at the heart of their translanguaging practices, sensory asymmetries are often not acknowledged in translanguaging theory and research. This has led to a bias in the use of translanguaging in deaf educational settings overlooking existing power disparities conditioning individual languaging choices. We ask whether translanguaging and attending to deaf signers’ fluid language practices is compatible with on-going and necessary efforts to maintain and promote sign languages as named languages. The concept of translanguaging challenges the six decade long project of sign linguistics and by extension Deaf Studies to legitimize the status of sign languages as minority languages. We argue that the minority language paradigm is still useful in finding tools to understand deaf people’s languaging practices and close with a call for closer attention to the level of sensory conditions, and the corresponding sensory politics, in shaping languaging practices. The emancipatory potential of acknowledging deaf people’s translanguaging skills must acknowledge the historical and contemporary contexts constantly conditioning individual languaging choices.