The Uneducating of America

Siegel, Jason F. siegeljf at
Thu Jul 5 15:51:54 UTC 2007

  The author of this article makes some good and important points
about how deaf education isn't as successful as education for hearing
children, but clearly is ill-informed. For instance, he mentions that
in Europe, deaf people learn multiple languages, but in France for
example, not only do they not learn multiple languages, but the
illiteracy rate has been estimated to be between 60 and 80%
(according to the Rapport Gillot), compared to 9% of the total
population (which includes deaf people, obviously). The author also
talks about Signing Exact English, which Timothy Reagan (1995)
explains violates the grammar of ASL even though much of its content
is borrowed from that language, and it also extensively uses
fingerspelling, which is hardly conducive to conductive a
conversation. He also mentions that English is being incorporated
more and more into ASL due to the "inefficiency" of the latter,
though 1) he doesn't give any figures for earlier rates of borrowing
and 2) this is common in many if not most of the languages in contact
with English, as you all surely know. Moreover, it is hard to see how
children would learn to acquire English without ever having heard it,
while still functioning at the high level the author envisions, and
why ASL is a "foreign" language while English would be a "native"

  Reagan, Timothy. 1995. Neither Easy to Understand Nor Pleasing to
See: The Development of Manual Sign Codes as Language Planning
Activity. Language Problems and Language Planning 19(2): 133-50.Jason
F. Siegel
Department of French & Italian
Ballantine Hall 642
1020 East Kirkwood Avenue
Indiana University
Bloomington, IN 47405-7103
siegeljf at

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