ASL for infants

Beverly Flanigan flanigan at OAK.CATS.OHIOU.EDU
Thu Mar 15 18:06:24 UTC 2001

At 11:30 AM 3/15/01 -0500, you wrote:
>(I am sending this post to ADS-L and SLLING-L, the Sign Language
>Linguistics list.)
>Grant Barrett <gbarrett at MONICKELS.COM> wrote to ADS-L, the American Dialect
>Society mailing list:
> >>>>>
> From the Washington Post
>"All three researchers advocate teaching signing as a way to learn babies'
>needs and
>wants -- whether food, play or a diaper change -- before they start to
>speak, typically
>during their second year."
>Thanks for that URL, Grant. They seem to have done something to block
>people from highlighting text and copying it off the page, which meant that
>I had to View Source to pull this quote from the article, which is by Sarah
> >>>>>
>Some experts familiar with American Sign Language, the formalized system of
>signs and motions often taught to the deaf, [...]
>If I weren't so unfortunately used to it, I would seethe. ASL is **FRIGGIN'
>I guess even exposure hasn't immunized me. How would this a-h feel if I
>wrote "Some experts familiar with English, the formalized system of mouth
>movements and sounds often taught to the hearing..."?
>-- Mark, going off for a cup of coffee to calm down
>    Mark A. Mandel : Dragon Systems, a Lernout & Hauspie company
>           Mark_Mandel at : Senior Linguist
>  320 Nevada St., Newton, MA 02460, USA :
>                      (speaking for myself)

But if deaf children aren't exposed to ASL early on, they may have to be
taught it, in effect as a second language (they will have probably
developed their own signing system in the meantime, as a "first"
language).  This is not uncommon in cases where parents either aren't aware
of a child's hearing problem or refuse/resist exposing the child to ASL in
the crucial early years.  This is compounded if they refuse to learn ASL
themselves (as a second language); those who do learn it can at least
provide natural (if imperfect) input to their children.  So the issue often
comes down to first (acquired) vs. second (learned) language, whether it's
signed or spoken.  And ASL has been "formalized," on the model of French
Sign, if I'm not mistaken.

Beverly Olson Flanigan         Department of Linguistics
Ohio University                     Athens, OH  45701
Ph.: (740) 593-4568              Fax: (740) 593-2967

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