The primary aim of the project is to investigate language attitudes of the British deaf community. We will use the BSL Corpus interview data which consists of responses to a range of questions about BSL, what it is and what it isn’t, how it is used and how it should be used, how it varies and how it’s changing (and whether it should or shouldn’t vary/change). We will be able to see if there are similarities or differences in the language attitudes of different social groups within the deaf community (e.g. if there are differences in how BSL is viewed by younger and older signers), and how attitudes relate to signers’ own behaviours (e.g. whether signers are aware that there are actually differences between younger and older signers, as found in recent research, and what those differences are). This study also gives us the opportunity to explore the deaf community’s attitude towards language contact between BSL and English – e.g. via attitudes about BSL versus English- based sign systems such as Sign-Supported English (SSE). This information will be beneficial for future research on BSL but also in language planning and policy, including the legal status of BSL in the UK. Additionally, translations of the interview data will be completed and made publicly available online. Translating the interview data means people will be able to see video clips of deaf people from different areas of the UK, different age groups and gender signing in BSL along with English translations. This will dramatically increase the searchability and browsability of the interview data, making it accessible and thus a much more valuable resource for teachers, learners and researchers.

This research is funded by the Secondary Data Analysis Initiative of the Economic and Social Research Council, UK.

Project title:  Language attitudes in the British deaf community: Evidence from the British Sign Language Corpus
Project team: Kearsy Cormier (PI)Jordan Fenlon (Co-investigator), Katherine Rowley (Co-investigator)
Project duration: May 2017 – September 2019