Engaging the Discourse of International Language Recognition through ISO 639-3 Signed Language Change Requests

Elizabeth Parks

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Linguistic ideologies that are left unquestioned and unexplored, especially as reflected and produced in marginalized language communities, can contribute to inequality made real in decisions about languages and the people who use them. One of the primary bodies of knowledge guiding international language policy is the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 639-3 Registry of Languages. I explore the impact of international language recognition through a Critical Discourse Analysis of proposed registry change requests related to a specific type of minority language: signed language. I describe key social actors involved in the international discourse of signed language recognition, types of knowledge used to promote distinct signed languages, naming strategies for those distinct entities, and ways that these processes are creating current social reality for signed language users around the world. Ultimately, I argue for deeper exploration of intersecting “deaf” and “sign language” identities, expansion of the “Deaf sign language” language family category, inclusion of online signed texts as “shared literature,” adoption of video and other alternative methods of representing preferred language names, and increased sensitivity related to how signing minorities may exist in broader deaf nations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)208-230
Number of pages23
JournalCritical Inquiry in Language Studies
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 3 2015
Externally publishedYes

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© 2015, © Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.


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