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Title: Beyond language : an ethnographic study of language planning and policy in the Yangon deaf community
Author: Foote, Ellen
ISNI:       0000 0004 7656 091X
Awarding Body: SOAS University of London
Current Institution: SOAS, University of London
Date of Award: 2018
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In 2007 the Myanmar government made a decision to standardise the country's two sign languages, Yangon Sign Language and Mandalay Sign Language. The project was initiated without community consultation. While this paternalistic approach to sign language planning and policy is widespread, there is a paucity of academic research that explores deaf people's responses to policy making. This study presents an ethnographic account of language planning and policy (LPP) in the Yangon deaf community, giving visibility and voice to deaf people. LPP is examined at different levels, demonstrating the complex and dynamic interactions between language policy in education, unofficial community language policy and top-down attempts at standardisation. Experiences of language use in school are shown to shape unofficial LPP in the community, influencing language ideologies and linguistic practices, as well as wider beliefs regarding language, equality and citizenship. The study also highlights the agency of the community, demonstrating how participants negotiate, and subvert, official LPP by constructing their own unofficial policy towards the standardised language in accordance with their ideologies, interests and agendas. Throughout the thesis, attention is drawn to the need for LPP research to go 'beyond language' and adopt an interdisciplinary approach in order to understand more completely the implications and outcomes of LPP. The findings also contribute to ongoing scholarly debate regarding the interplay between LPP and social justice. It is suggested that a more critical approach is required, one that questions the assumed moral imperative of interventions such as mother-tongue education and language rights.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral