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Seeing Language in Sign The Work of William C. Stokoe (Jane Maher) (Z-Library)
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Page xiii
Writing of the Dictionary fifteen years later, Carol Padden, an early student of Stokoe's, and now an eminent deaf linguist,
wrote: "It was unique to describe 'Deaf people' as constituting a cultural group . . . it represented a break from the long tradition of 'pathologizing' Deaf people. . . . Ina sense the book brought official and public recognition of a deeper aspect of Deaf people's lives their culture" But though in retrospect Stokoe's works were seen as "bombshells" or "landmarks" and though in retrospect they can be seen as having had a major part in leading to the subsequent transformation of consciousness, they were all but ignored at the time. Stokoe himself has commented "Publication of Sign Language Structure]brought a curious local reaction. With the exception of . . . one or two colleagues, the entire Gallaudet faculty rudely attacked me, linguistics, and the study of signing as a language."
There was certainly very little impact among his fellow linguists the great general works on language of the s make no reference to it or indeed to sign language at all. More remarkable, in a sense, was the indifferent or hostile reaction of deaf people themselves, whom one might have thought would have been the first to see and welcome Stokoe's insights. But it was precisely signers who were most resistant to his notions. Thus Gil Eastman (later to become an acclaimed Deaf playwright and a most ardent supporter of Stokoe's) recalls, "My colleagues and I laughed at Dr. Stokoe and his crazy project. It was impossible to analyze our sign language."
Stokoe persevered in the face of all this, pursuing his studies with quiet stubbornness, even, when possible, turning adversities to advantage. Thus when his colleagues in the English Department replaced him as chairman in 1972, he was able to devote himself almost entirely to research, making the Linguistics Research Laboratory something more than the summer and spare time activity it had been fora dozen years. Here Stokoe and his students and collaborators continued their research. Many of his collaborators were themselves deaf, and this was the first time that deaf people had ever been employed as equals in fundamental research. Many of his students went onto specialize in linguistics, becoming the first generation of deaf

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