American Sign Language---query

Benjamin Zimmer bgzimmer at RCI.RUTGERS.EDU
Wed Apr 13 02:25:05 UTC 2005

On Tue, 12 Apr 2005 15:44:39 -0500, Cohen, Gerald Leonard <gcohen at UMR.EDU>

>Is American Sign Language (ASL) really a  "complete and natural language"
>as, e.g. the U of Minnesota says, or is it merely the signing skills
>(however valuable)  with which to communicate a natural language?
>My campus' administration has turned to the Foreign Language section for
>insight on this matter, and I know virtually nothing about sign language.
>I assume ASL is *not* a natural language but am open to persuasion on
>this point.
>This all has to do with whether my campus should offer foreign-language
>credit for ASL, or perhaps something else like free-elective credit

I expect Larry Horn will be chiming in on the topic in the near future, as
he was instrumental in getting Yale to accept ASL for the foreign language
requirement.  In the meantime, here is a letter he cowrote in support of a
similar move at Boston University: <>.

These two pages have lists of universities where ASL fulfills the foreign
language requirement:

The Linguist List has also had extensive discussion on the issue.

--Ben Zimmer

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