Stephanie's Current Dissertation

Valerie Sutton sutton at SIGNWRITING.ORG
Sun Jul 13 13:41:21 UTC 2003

SignWriting List
July 13, 2003

On Saturday, July 12, 2003, Stephanie Berk wrote:
> I have been reading the emails on the list now for about 6 months,
> but have not yet introduced myself, although I do feel I know many of
> you from the emails.  My name is Stephanie Berk and I am finishing my
> Ph.D.  dissertation at the University of Connecticut, on the
> acquisition
> of American Sign Language when first language exposure is delayed by
> almost 6 years.  I am currently living in Pittsburgh, PA and will be
> here for at least another 2 years.

Welcome, Stephanie, to the SignWriting List. I am glad you finally
introduced yourself....;-)

What an interesting topic for your current dissertation, Stephanie...I
have always been curious about this question: Does everyone have a
"native language"? What about some Deaf people, who receive oral
training, and who are denied signing, but then later learn to sign in
ASL and that is their only language...Are they "native ASL"? They
cannot really say that English was their first language either...

I have had several Deaf co-workers in that of them didn't
have a true language until age 8, when he was finally placed in a Deaf
residential school...and yet he seems to have good ASL...So I asked
him....Are you a native ASL signer? He said "no"... "Are you a native
English speaker?"...He said No...he doesn't know English that well. So
I asked...What is your first language? He answered "ASL at age 8"...

Val ;-)

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