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Book Chapter

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The Oxford Handbook Of Taboo Words And Language


This chapter offers an overview of taboo topics within deaf communities to bring forward issues not obvious to those outside deaf communities. We look at taboo behaviors of hearing people as they interact with deaf communities, considering linguistic and cultural appropriation, exploitation, and hearing privilege. We also look at taboo topics regarding social hierarchies within deaf communities, those based on gender and race, as well as those based on cognitive abilities, particularly language. These topics present a nuanced and diverse representation of deaf people, which is intended to sensitize those aiming to work with deaf communities or, in fact, with any oppressed group. Scholars need to behave responsibly. Linguists, unwittingly, may well have had a negative effect on deaf communities by exalting the language of those who were privileged enough to acquire a firm foundation in signing during the sensitive period for language development and discounting the language of others.


sign languages, deaf communities, taboo behaviors, taboo topics, ethical practices

Published By

Oxford University Press


K. Allan


A pre-publication version of this work is freely available on the author's personal website.

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