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Graham Turner, 2003. In: Hogan-Brun, G., Wolff, S. (Eds.), Minority Languages in Europe: Frameworks, Status, Prospects, Palgrave Macmillan UK, pages 192-210
This paper seeks to extend our understanding of the circumstances of a particular minority language, British Sign Language (BSL), within the present political framework in the UK and to assess the need for, threats to, and prospects of its adequate protection as part of the common cultural heritage. This paper is not primarily driven by language data per se, but rather draws upon more impressionistic participation and observation within the minority language community in question. The author is a user of BSL, engaged socially and professionally on a daily basis with the relevant language community. The issue under investigation relates to the interpenetration of language and social systems, and a close awareness of social and public policy forces and their consequences is applied. This paper is aligned with an emerging tradition of scholarship in sign linguistics and builds upon the author’s earlier work (Turner 1995, 1996, 1999), drawing on the sociology of language and on anthropological linguistics for analyses of language and identity and on some recent developments in socio-political theory.