THE DEAF AND SIGN LANGUAGE - A DISPUTE ABOUT LANGUAGE AND CULTURE (Glusi i jezyk migowy - spor o jezyk i kulture)
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The article tries to describe phenomena that have so far largely not captured the attention of the Polish social sciences, that is the process of crystallization and manifestation of the cultural identity of the deaf. The controversies presented here concern mainly two questions. The first is whether the sign (visual-spatial) language may be treated on a par with a phonic one as another type of human language. Secondly, whether on the basis of this linguistic differentiation one can speak of the cultural and linguistic identity of the deaf. In such a case the destruction of the sense of hearing would not be treated as a physical disability, but as a characteristic of cultural otherness. Moreover, one can be culturally Deaf even if one can hear - the factors that constitute the minority Deaf Culture are above all: the use of sign language, the recognition of its primacy over the artificial systems of sign language and a phonic language as well as the protection of the cultural heritage of the Deaf in a society capable of audition where the Deaf are discriminated against and 'discultured' (for example by the system of education or the imperative of curing deafness by cochlear implants).
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