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Nonaka, Angela Miyuki

Grant Type: 
Hunt Postdoctoral Fellowship
Insitutional Affiliation: 
Texas, Austin, U. of
Completed Grant
Approve Date: 
October 7, 2010
Project Title: 
Nonaka, Dr. Angela M., U. of Texas, Austin, TX - To aid research and writing on ''It Takes a Village': Anthropological Analysis of Indigenous Sign Language Development and Decline in Thailand' - Hunt Postdoctoral Fellowship

DR. ANGELA M. NONAKA, University of Texas, Austin, Texas, was awarded a Hunt Postdoctoral Fellowship to aid research and writing on ''It Takes a Village:' Anthropological Analysis of Indigenous Sign Language Development and Decline in Thailand.' It Takes a Village is a 311-page manuscript that traces the life cycle of Ban Khor Sign Language. BKSL arose some 80 years ago in response to an unusually high incidence of hereditary deafness, and until recently was widely used in daily life by both hearing and deaf villagers, fostering participation and inclusion of the latter. This rare sociolinguistic ecology is undergoing dramatic changes, however, that threaten the continued vitality of BKSL, which is being supplanted by Thai Sign Language. Synthesizing more than a decade of continuous, holistic anthropological research, this study examines the causes and consequences of language emergence, maintenance, and shift. Ethnographically compelling on their own merits, the descriptive particulars of the Ban Khor case study have applied import for understanding the widespread endangerment of this rare sign language variety. This project also breaks new theoretical ground. By adopting a language socialization perspective that emphasizes interactional, use-based analysis of BKSL, this study counters key assumptions in formal linguistics about 'village' or 'indigenous' sign languages (and other lesser-known signing varieties), by demonstrating their full linguistic complexity and utility in situ, in the course of quotidian talk and interaction.