Desa Kolok – literally “deaf village” – in the north of Bali has a
community with a unique sociolinguistic setting. The presence of genetic
deafness over many generations has given rise to an indigenous sign
language and socio-cultural adaptations to deafness.
The village community in Desa Kolok has adapted to the presence of deafness
to an extent not known in any other community. Deaf members of the village
have special social roles such as waterpipe management, burials, and
policing of the village, and there are specific cultural and social
practices referring to deafness, including a deaf god in the local variety
of Hinduism and myths about the origin of deafness in the village.
The author also documents the linguistic structures of the village sign
language Kata Kolok (“deaf language”) in detail. Kata Kolok differs from
most other known sign languages with respect to the use of the sign space
in its linguistic system: the sign space is not used metaphorically to
refer to non-spatial concepts such as time, transitivity, or logical
contrasts. Thus there is no metaphorical “time line” with the future in
front and the past at the back of the signer, and transitive verbs do not
have a movement from subject to object location. The author also provides a
detailed account of the patterns of language use for both signed and spoken
languages in this multilingual village.
In summary, this book paints a compelling, vivid picture of the village
community, the patterns of language use, the cultural significance of
deafness, and the structure of the sign language. The book includes a data
CD with video clips of the village and the sign language as well as colour
photographs showing daily life in the village. The book will be of interest
to sign language linguists, typologists, linguistic anthropologists,
sociolinguists, and specialists in language documentation and field
This book is published by Ishara Press, an ethically responsible publisher
in the field of sign language studies.