Since the recognition of British Sign Language in 2003 and the denunciation in 2010 of the 1880 decision to ban sign language in deaf education, the Deaf community has taken a positive move forward as a linguistic minority. This study explores the sense relations of the word deaf through a consideration of (a) quantitative data from a questionnaire study, (b) interviews and correspondence with academics in the field of deaf studies. The paper aims to demonstrate how the concept of the term deaf has changed and proposes that the cultural definition of deafness, Deaf (with capital ‘D’), representing a culture and linguistic minority rather than a disability (in essence Deafhood), needs to be included in the dictionary. This addition would serve to ameliorate the word deaf and provide a permanent, mainstream reminder of the positive sense relations of the word d/Deaf.
For the purpose of this article, d/Deaf refers to both audiological and culturally deaf people.
Pejorisation is the process in which over time a word acquires negative meaning and amelioration is a process in which a word regains a positive meaning.
Keywords: Pejoration, Amelioration, d/Deaf, H/hearing, Deafhood, Social Model, Medical Model,
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