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Slovenian deaf get first sign language grammar

Ljubljana, 30 August - The Association of the Deaf and Hearing-Impaired has presented a grammar of Slovenian sign language featuring 40 video clips, another project coming after it recently launched an idea to enshrine the sign language as an official language in the Slovenian Constitution.

Ljubljana
The Slovenian Association of the Deaf and Hearing-Impaired gives a news conference to present the first grammar of the Slovenian sign language. Pictured are the association's president Mladen Veršič and linguist Matic Pavlič.
Photo: Izabela Ravnikar/STA

Ljubljana
The Slovenian Association of the Deaf and Hearing-Impaired gives a news conference to present the first grammar of the Slovenian sign language. Pictured are the association's president Mladen Veršič and linguist Matic Pavlič.
Photo: Izabela Ravnikar/STA

Ljubljana
The Slovenian Association of the Deaf and Hearing-Impaired gives a news conference to present the first grammar of the Slovenian sign language. Pictured are the association's president Mladen Veršič and linguist Matic Pavlič.
Photo: Izabela Ravnikar/STA

The grammar is meant to improve the language confidence of this vulnerable group and promote their involvement in education, linguist Matic Pavlič told the press on Friday.

He explained the deaf and hearing-impaired, or those who use the sign language, are interested in its use, structure and features, hence the idea for the grammar.

Pavič believes it will help them distinguish between what is natural in their sign language and the influences of the Slovenian language.

This will help them better explain the features of their language, making them prouder of it, so they will find it easier to take responsibility for its preservation.

Intended mostly for deaf sign language users, the grammar was recorded in the Slovenian sign language. The videos are silent but have subtitles, said Pavlič.

Noting that the sign language was still banned only 40 years ago, the association's president Mladen Veršič said the deaf used to find it very hard for communication in the past.

"The mission of our association was for a long time to persuade decision-makers that the sign language is a language," said the association's secretary Matjaž Juhart.

Pavlič believes the grammar, co-funded by the Culture Ministry and the EU, is only the beginning of proper research into the Slovenian sign language.

The association would also like the sign language to be protected by the Constitution, which would give it the status of an official language in Slovenia.

"I've been making great efforts for the sign language, which is the mother tongue of the deaf and hearing-impaired, to be included in the constitution," Veršič said.

The government and the Constitutional Commission have already endorsed the idea, so the association is now waiting for the procedure to be launched, he added.

The association would also like school children to have the option of learning the Slovenian sign language, if they choose so.

eho/ir/zm
© STA, 2019