Attitudes Towards the Official recognition of Hong Kong Sign Language by Hong Kong Citizens

Linghui Gan (University of Amsterdam)
Federico Gobbo (University of Amsterdam)

Abstract


Abstract in the manuscript:

This paper is a pilot study that investigates the attitudes towards the official recognition of Hong Kong Sign Language (HKSL) by Hong Kong citizens. We conducted long-distance semi-structure interviews with 30 participants grouped as deaf, hearing-related (hearing people that are closely involved in the Deaf community), and hearing-unrelated (hearing people that have little contact with deaf people and the Deaf community). Results show that the majority of participants (N=22) holds a supportive attitude towards the recognition of HKSL; Five participants hold a neutral position, and three participants hold a negative attitude towards it. We discussed each type of attitude in detail. Results show that participants’ attitudes are related to their awareness of deaf people’s need, the understanding of ‘language recognition’, and personal world views. Results also indicate that hearing people who are not involved in the Deaf community know very little about deaf people and the Deaf community, in general. At the end of the paper, we also reflect on two issues: the role of HKSL in deaf education and the standardization of HKSL. 

 

A brief description of the novelty and importance:

This research is a pilot study investigating the attitudes towards the official recognition of Hong Kong Sign Language (HKSL) by Hong Kong citizens. We adopted the semi-structured interview as our methodology and recruited three groups of participants. Each group includes ten interviewees: 1) deaf members of the Deaf community in Hong Kong; 2) hearing people who are involved in the Deaf community daily, and 3) hearing people who have little contact with deaf people and the Deaf community. Concerning many deaf interviewees may have poorer literacy in Chinese, and to ensure each group is equally efficient in the communication. The interviews with hearing participants were conducted in Cantonese, and in HKSL for the deaf group. Despite the relatively small number of participants, this pilot study provides us a preliminary picture of different perspectives by the three groups of people in society.

To our knowledge, this is the first study that investigates attitudes towards the official recognition of Hong Kong Sign Language. It is also one of the very few sociolinguistic studies on language attitude towards a sign language and recognition.


Keywords


Sign language recognition; Official language; Status planning; Language attitude; HKSL

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References


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DOI: https://doi.org/10.30564/jler.v2i2.639

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