Ulrike Zeshan and Connie de Vos, International Institute for Sign Languages and Deaf Studies, University of Central Lancashire, UK.
The series is dedicated to the comparative study of sign languages around the world. Individual or collective works that systematically explore typological variation across sign languages are the focus of this series, with particular emphasis on undocumented, underdescribed and endangered sign languages. The scope of the series primarily includes cross-linguistic studies of grammatical domains across a larger or smaller sample of sign languages, but also encompasses the study of individual sign languages from a typological perspective and comparison between signed and spoken languages in terms of language modality, as well as theoretical and methodological contributions to sign language typology.
The book is a unique collection of research on sign languages that have emerged in rural communities with a high incidence of, often hereditary, deafness. These sign languages represent the latest addition to the comparative investigation of languages in the gestural modality, and the book is the first compilation of a substantial number of different "village sign languages". Written by leading experts in the field, the volume uniquely combines anthropological and linguistic insights, looking at both the social dynamics and the linguistic structures in these village communities. The book includes primary data from eleven different signing communities across the world, including results from Jamaica, India, Turkey, Thailand, and Bali.
All known village sign languages are endangered, usually because of pressure from larger urban sign languages, and some have died out already. Ironically, it is often the success of the larger sign language communities in urban centres, their recognition and subsequent spread, which leads to the endangerment of these small minority sign languages. The book addresses this specific type of language endangerment, documentation strategies, and other ethical issues pertaining to these sign languages on the basis of first-hand experiences by Deaf fieldworkers.