Today’s Lecture • Sign Language • Myths about sign language • Why it is important? • American Sign Language • Fingerspelling
SIGN LANGUAGE • Used primarily by hearing-impaired people, • Uses a different medium: hands, face, and eyes (rather than vocal tract or ears). • NOT derived from spoken language
Why Study Sign Language? • Sign Language exhibits same functional properties and follow same universal principles as spoken language—possible evidence of universal grammar (UG). • Study of sign language provides unique insight into the nature of language itself. • Brain function similarities indicate language not based on hearing and speech.
MYTHS about sign language • It’s universal: NO. ASL =/= British sign language =/= Spanish sign language • It’s like mime: NO. Some signs may be iconic, but others are not (e.g.,‘apple’ in ASL). Mime can use the whole body; sign language uses only an area between the waist and head. • Has no grammar on its own. NO. ASL is NOT “English on the hands”. English grammar and ASL grammar are very different; e.g., ASL has a free word order; ASL does not have tense markers. • Cannot convey the same meaning/complexities as spoken language. NO. ASL speakers can express anything they want in ASL.
Why is it important? • Not to marginalize disabled people. • Spread Language. • Possible as any other way of communication (radio, letter, television, newspapers, magazines…)
The most effective way to communicate with a Deaf person is to use sign language or an interpreter.
Did you know that when two Deaf people meet for the first time they usually share information about what school they attended. This helps them to establish their ties with the Deaf community.
Deaf people strengthen their social bonds by participating in Deaf clubs and activities such as, athletic tournaments, churches, picnics, and other social events.
·When you meet a Deaf person for the first time they will want to know: 1.your first and last name 2.whether you are deaf, hard of hearing, or hearing 3.who is teaching you the language and culture 4.where you are studying why you are learning ASL
You should always use your dominant hand to sign. If you are ambidextrous, choose one hand as your dominant hand and be consistent.
ASL (American Sign Language) is one of the world’s many sign languages
American Sign Language is a language that incorporates mime, and picture-like images to express and convey abstract ideas and concepts. Also, ASL uses space and movement to convey meaning.
Bellringer • ASL is now the fourth most used language in the United States.
ASL and the culture are transmitted from generation to generation primarily through residential schools and Deaf adults.
ASL Grammar • ASL Phonology • Hand-shape, location, movement, palm orientation (features on their own may mean nothing) • There’s also assimilation, syllabic constraints, etc, (as in the in the phonology of spoken languages).
ASL Grammar • ASL morphology • Parts of speech are also nouns (N),verbs (V), adjectives (A), pronouns (Pro), adverbs (Adv). • A basic form can be inflected in ASL; e.g., Give and different ‘aspects’ (Clark, p. 84). • Also, nouns are associated with spatial points. Moving between those mark subject/object and pronominal relations. • ASL classifiers (relationals) are embedded in V signals • ASL signs can form compounds
ASL Grammar • ASL Syntax • Word order: SVO (same as English). However, ASL tends to be a free word order language. • ASL allows PRO drop (“subjectless” sentences). • Facial expressions express emotions, but also signal syntactic relationships. “Today snow. Trip cancel.”
Structure of ASL • Five Basic Parameters • Shape of the hand • Place of articulation (location) • Movement • Palm Orientation • Region of the hand contacting body • Orientation of the hand to body • Orientation of hands to each other • Facial Expressions
Some differences/similarities • In spoken language, phonemes occur linearly; in ASL primes cannot (spatial) • ASL involves discrete components, just like spoken language • ASL has minimal pairs, as does spoken language (words differing in only one aspect). • Speakers of both can have dialectsand be perceived to have accents.
Sign Language • Fingerspelling/Manual Alphabet • Words without assigned signs may be spelled • Some commonly spelled words become lexicalized (e.g. NO) • Not the same handshape is used in every sign language
Fingerspelled loan signs are two to five letter, commonly used words that have their own unique patterns of movement. These movements are different from regular fingerspelling. Instead, these words have become ASL signs. Examples: dog, OK, car, bus, bank, early,….
When you see a fingerspelled word you should try to see the shape and movement pattern of the word rather than try to see each letter.
When you fingerspell a word try to keep you hand slightly to the right of your face and below your chin. Avoid bouncing each letter.
Fingerspelling is not a substitute for a sign. If you don’t know a sign for a word, first try to act it out, point to it, describe, gesture, draw. Fingerspelling should be used as a last resort.
Sign Language • Dialects and Registers • There are differences between groups within the same language. Black ASL may have properties (handshapes, certain position of certain fingers, size of spaced used, etc) different from other forms of ASL. • Also, formal vs informal contexts affect some properties of ASL. For example, deletion is not common in formal contexts; the signing space is bigger in formal contexts, etc.
Recap • Sign Language • Myths about sign language • Why it is important? • American Sign Language • Fingerspelling