Title

Lending A Hand: Competence Through Cooperation In Nepal's Deaf Associations

Abstract

Since forming contacts with international Deaf associations promoting an ethnolinguistic model of Deafness, members of Nepal's Deaf associations define Deafness by competence in Nepali Sign Language rather than audiological status. By analyzing the ideological and interactional processes through which homesigners are incorporated into Nepali Deaf social life, this article explores the effects of local beliefs about the nature of language, personhood, and competence on this model of Deafness. Due to former linguistic isolation, many homesigners are constrained in their ability to acquire Nepali Sign Language and, in social contexts where ideological conceptions of language use highlight individual competencies, would not be included in a Deaf social category. However, Nepali conceptions of socially distributed personhood contribute to a focus on the dialogically emergent dimensions of semiosis. As a result, recognition as a competent signer in this context can depend less on individual cognitive ability than on social collaboration.

Publisher

Cambridge University Press

Publication Date

6-1-2011

Publication Title

Language In Society

Department

Anthropology

Document Type

Article

DOI

10.1017/S0047404511000194

Language

English

Format

text

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