Shakespeare in ASL

Scott or Pafra Catledge scplc at COMMUNIQUE.NET
Wed Jul 7 02:52:09 UTC 1999

I would love to see documentation for some of these "careful studies," particularly any that have been published in juried language publications.   I will not debate your assertion that principal linguistics groups would never submit "resolutions based on politically correct positions (although it gave me quite a chuckle); I will agree that no linguistics group to my knowledge--or any other such group--has ever admitted taking a position because it was politically correct although ASLHA came close when they moved their national convention one winter from NOLA in a state that licensed Audiologists and Speech/ Language Pathologists but that had not ratified the ERA to Detroit in a state that had ratified ERA but that did not license Audiologists and Speech/Language Pathologists "at the request of many members."

> Fortunately such stuff is being very carefully researched (and I meant to
> raise no political issues, only to state a very well-agreed on linguistic
> commonplaces among linguists who have devoted their lives to ASL research,
> hardly anecdotal evidence, not would the principal lingusitics groups in
> the US submit resolutions based on anecdotal or politically correct
> positions).
> To call ASL a dialect of French takes a little piece of historical
> information and makes far too much of it. That is at every level (phonetic,
> phonological, morphological, not to mention syntactic and pragmatic) more
> than a little off base.  Morphological elements of ASL, for example,
> pattern in a very different way from French morphology (of any historical
> period or variety). In addition, ASL phonetics and phonology are hardly a
> pretense, as many careful studies show.
> Applied linguistics, as always, is harder, since we may not have all the
> variables in hand, but the fact that ASL learners do so poorly (on some
> tests) would seem to be about like suggesting that I would do poorly on a
> Chinese test. It's not my native language, and I have very little control
> over it. I would turn out to be lower than first grade. If you want to know
> someone's langauge proficiency, you must test them in the language they
> know (not the one you think they should know, which does, at last, I
> suppose admit some of the political fervor which surrounds much of this
> debate).
> dInIs
> >In Deaf Ed classes, we studied the basics of ASL, Signed English, and Signing
> >Exact English.  Of these, only SEE morphology, but not even it made a
> pretense
> >of phonology,, much less phonetics.  All the languages studied had syntax,
> >semantics, and pragmatics, of course.  The morphology of ASL seems more
> >complex than English to the naive English learner because ASL is a "dialect"
> >from French, not English.  I have yet to hear an explanation of why students
> >who learn ASL are such low achievers when the few students who are fortunate
> >enough to learn SEE do as well as if not better than their hearing
> classmates.
> >Unfortunately, it is politically incorrect to research such a point, and we
> >are left with only anecdotes.
> >
> >----------
> >> One can only hope that the gist of this does not lie in the direction which
> >> I first understood. ASL, of course, is a fully developed, complex human
> >> language (with a phonetics, phonology, morphology [much more complex than
> >> English], syntax, semantics, and pragamtics). The idea that it is
> >> Tonto/Tarzan talk is simply a misunderstanding of the phrase "sign
> >> language."
> >>
> >> Further, the idea that learning it (and becoming proficient in it) would
> >> "retard' one's ability to read and/or write English is unfounded (similar,
> >> in fact, to the popular notion that children's acquisition of a second
> >> language might retard their advancement in their first or, more insidious,
> >> that continued development in their first might retard their acquisition of
> >> a second, the apparent foundation of "English Only" and anti-bilingual
> >> education measures roundly condemned by every responsible professional
> >> linguistics organization (e.g., LSA, AAAL).
> >>
> >> dInIs
> >>
> >> PS: One nice thing (among many others) about being from the South Midland
> >> (i.e., Hillbilly) area is that nobody wants to translate Shakespeare into
> >> our variety, since the popular press has told us that us shit-kickers
> >> already speak Elizabethan English.
> >>
> >>
> >>
> >>
> >>
> >>
> >> >Just pretend that you are Tonto/Tarzan.  Why do you think that deaf
> students
> >> >graduate with an average achievement level of 3rd grade, as I was told in
> my
> >> >graduate Deaf Ed classes at UNF.
> >> >
> >> >----------
> >> >> Is anyone familiar with translation of dramatic works into American Sign
> >> >> Language?  I am assisting a dramatist who is in the process of
> translating
> >> >> _Twelfth Night_ into ASL and I am looking for works on translation and
> use
> >> >> of ASL in drama.
> >> >>
> >> >> If you're interested, the website for this project can be found at:
> >> >>
> >> >>
> >>
> >> Dennis R. Preston
> >> Department of Linguistics and Languages
> >> Michigan State University
> >> East Lansing MI 48824-1027 USA
> >> preston at
> >> Office: (517)353-0740
> >> Fax: (517)432-2736
> Dennis R. Preston
> Department of Linguistics and Languages
> Michigan State University
> East Lansing MI 48824-1027 USA
> preston at
> Office: (517)353-0740
> Fax: (517)432-2736

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