Thai signed languages survey—a rapid appraisal

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Hurlbut, Hope M
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SIL Electronic Survey Reports 2009-016
14 pages

This report concerns a survey of the signed languages in Thailand in 2006. Wordlists and stories were collected in three major cities and two villages. Dr. James Woodward and others had previously identified five different varieties of signing in the country: namely, Old Bangkok Sign Language, Modern Bangkok Sign Language, Old Chiang Mai Sign Language, Modern Chiang Mai Sign Language, and Ban Khor Sign Language.

This survey covered the cities of Bangkok, Chiang Mai, and Hat Yai, plus the villages of Ban Khor and Pla Pak. These were places that were reported to be different from one another by the Deaf and also some of the hearing who had contact with the Deaf. Several wordlists and stories were collected from each of the places visited. The wordlists were transcribed by hand using the SignWriting orthography. These lists were then compared city by city, as well as comparing the city lists with the village lists.

The results of the survey suggest that there are only three distinct signed languages identified in the country: Thai Sign Language, Old Bangkok Sign Language, and Ban Khor Sign Language. There are probably still some signers of Old Chiang Mai Sign Language, but none of them were available to be videoed.

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Sign languages
Language surveys
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