France currently has 300,000 deaf people, including 100,000 who speak French Sign Language (FSL), as well as five million hearing-impaired people.
But does this handicap, shared by so many individuals, necessarily induce a feeling of belonging to the same community? On the occasion of the World Day of the Deaf, this Saturday, September 24, we delve into this issue.
“Without this language there is no community”
For Yann Cantin, a professor at the University of Paris 8 and a historian specializing in the history of the deaf community and LSF, there is indeed a “deaf community” that derives this status from two elements: solidarity between deaf people and a language common sign language
“Without this language there is no community and we go through the register of disability, deafness, he explains. It is difficult for a hearing person to understand why deaf people claim to have an identity, which goes through the right to have their own language. Many believe that sign languages are communication aids, when they are not.
Few know it but LSF is almost as old as French. “In its current form, it is only a century and a half old,” explains Yann Cantin. LSF has undergone many changes, not at the syntax or grammar level, which are stable over time, but at the vocabulary level. However, in my research, I was able to go back to the middle of the Middle Ages, around the 12th century, to find the oldest forms of LSF discovered.
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Similarly, sign language is not universal. The historian takes the example…