American Sign Language---query

FRITZ JUENGLING juengling_fritz at SALKEIZ.K12.OR.US
Wed Apr 13 15:22:59 UTC 2005

>From my understanding (I had this confirmed by a discussion with our ASL teacher yesterday), ASL is based on French Sign Language. According to her, about 60% of the signs are from French SL. After it was brought here, it was expanded upon (I'm sure any good encyclopedia, such as Britannica, would give a good history), and is, therefore, American.  There are many sign languages, some with the same or similar signs, others with radically different signs.  Our teacher said she cannot communicate with someone who signs Japanese SL.  What I find more interesting than the fact that there are various sign languages is that there are regional dialects within ASL. For example, The sign for 'football' is different on the East coast from on the West Coast.Several signers have told me this.  I really don't know anything about ASL dialects, but I believe it has to do more with signs than syntax, but I could be wrong.

>>> jsmithjamessmith at YAHOO.COM 04/13/05 05:52AM >>>
>This discussion revives a question I've had for a
>number of years.  Why is it called American Sign
>Language - why is it tied to American culture and
>language?  It seems to me a true sign language would
>transcend cultural boundaries and be independent of
>spoken or written language.

I'm not sure why "a true sign language would
transcend cultural boundaries and be independent of
spoken or written language."  It seems to me that it would be influenced by those who invented it (if we are talking about a scholar who invented it for deaf children as opposed it coming totally from the deaf community) and be tied to the particular culture that is using it.  ASL is not the same as the "Indian Sign Language" that we all saw on TV Westerns.  THat was a way for speakers of different languages to communicate.  I suspect that that was not really a language, but a set of signs. ASL is far beyond that.

 Can ASL be used to
communicate in other lands, even other English
speaking lands, or does each country or culture "X"
have its own "X"SL?

James D. SMITH                 |If history teaches anything
South SLC, UT                  |it is that we will be sued
jsmithjamessmith at     |whether we act quickly and decisively
                               |or slowly and cautiously.

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