[sw-l] Who uses ASL?
James Shepard-Kegl, Esq.
kegl at MAINE.RR.COM
Sun Jan 23 21:12:22 UTC 2005
My understanding is that the shift in Latin American societies from
indigenous sign languages to ASL is not always unintentional. Various
missionary groups (sometimes in collaboration -- or cahoots -- with
Gallaudet University) have quite deliberately imposed the shift. Costa
Rica, I believe, is a case in point. I have seen this attempted, to a
degree, in Nicaragua, but with only limited success. In fairness, I must
point out that some of the missionary groups that I have encountered go to
great lengths to respect the indigenous sign language.
All sign languages share common grammatical properties just as all spoken
languages share common grammatical properties (and, by the way, signed
languages also share a lot of rules common to spoken languages. Nicaragua
Sign Language, for example, uses serial verbs, as does Ewe in Nigeria.)
Therefore, when you see ASL qualities in another sign language, this may be
the result of borrowing or contamination or historical roots, or just the
way our brains function. On the other hand, when you see a great deal of
shared vocabulary, that shows there had to be some influence going on.
on 1/23/05 3:13 PM, dparvaz at MAC.COM at dparvaz at MAC.COM wrote:
> I can't be too sure, but Puerto Rico uses ASL *now*. My understanding
> is that a separate PRSL did exist but a school for the deaf set up by
> missionaries made short work of that. Unintentionally, of course. All
> I've seen of Singaporean SL makes it look identical to some kind of
> This has been an issue, particularly where Peace Corps volunteers have
> gone in to work with the Deaf. It's a combination of the volunteers not
> learning the autochthonous SL, combined with the locals wanting to
> learn a -- and I'm being ironic here -- "better" SL (meaning one that
> will give the access to US culture, life, etc.).
> On Jan 23, 2005, at 3:02 PM, Deaf Action Committee wrote:
>> SignWriting List
>> January 23, 2005
>>> Hi, my name is Rachael Harris. I read your email which stated that
>>> asl is only used in America and english speaking parts of Canada.
>>> Well, for the past few years I have been living in the Dominican
>>> Republic and working among the deaf population there. Asl is taught
>>> in all the schools there, the same as it is in America. I was
>>> wondering if there are any other countries that use asl. My friend
>>> and I are interested in going abroad to live and work among a deaf
>>> community in another country, but i'm not sure which other countries
>>> use asl. Your reply will be greatly appreciated. Thank-you.
>>> My email address is Islegirl_1980 at hotmail.com
>> Who uses ASL?
>> 1. USA
>> 2. English-speaking Canada
>> 3. Dominican Republic
>> Any more countries?...I need to know too, as well as Rachael
>> above...Val ;-)
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