[sw-l] Who uses ASL?

dparvaz at MAC.COM dparvaz at MAC.COM
Sun Jan 23 21:53:13 UTC 2005

> 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.

I know all this, James. I've learned a few different SLs, and I spend
my off time writing a grammar for one. I'm talking about approaching a
98% overlap in every area for some of these countries. The probablity
of that happening by contact is vanishingly small. These are cases of
ASL supplanting the local SLs, pure and simple.

I agree that there are missionary organizations devoted to NOT making
the same mistake; for instance, I can't imagine SIL ever doing anything
like this. But Gallaudet? I've heard of Latin American governments
asking for Gallaudet to send their ASL materials for use in the local
education system (hey, it saves on development costs, right?) only to
be turned down.

A similar thing happens in the Arab world... every couple of years or
so, a bunch of hearing educators get together on some boondoggle and
talk about a Pan-Arab sign language for educational purposes. They then
go back and talk it up with the local deaf communities who may even go
on the record as agreeing with this. I have a glossary of Tunisian
signs with the Pan-Arab aim expressly mentioned in the preface!
However, there is never enough impetus to carry this through, since the
deaf are not a very high priority to the governments, and the whole
business gets swept under the rug until the next fancy conference.
Perhaps neglect is what saves the language diversity for now. Thank
goodness there is no missionary zeal behind it.  Perverse or not, it
works. :-)


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