Date: Tue May 19, 1998 7:54
SignWriting List Forum
Subject: Re: Introductions?
OK, I'll bite. I'm one of those non-prescriptive linguists referred to --
I discovered the SW list about a month ago, give or take, and I came to it
through the backdoor. Here's the relevant history:
I am the mother of three grown kids and three teens. Something like 7 years
ago I went back to school to get a PhD in Linguistics. This was not
something I planned. One day I said I was going to do it, having never had a
single thought about it until then, and a few days later I was doing it.
That may not be the way to make a major life decision but it worked well --
Linguistics turned out to be just what I would have picked if I had been
systematic about it: it combined my former lives of chemistry major and
As a linguist I am interested in language production. My chosen dissertation
topic concerns lengthening in Japanese. Never mind why, but there's a good
reason. I don't speak Japanese, but you can get all the native speakers you
need in exchange for homemade sushi.
I came to SW as part of another life-revolution, or so it now appears. I was
gradually getting exposed to ASL through another list member, Joseph
Castronovo. He told me about the list. I knew almost nothing about ASL and
Deaf issues at that point, but the list sounded interesting. Right away I
could see it would help me learn signs when there was no willing tutor
But issues I hadn't thought of -- could never have thought of on my own --
arose immediately, such as the fact that it is not good enough for ASL
native speakers to have to write in English! Now it's obvious, but that only
shows the revolution in my thinking. This exposure is also causing me to
think about writing systems in general. There are a lot of issues there, too
much to discuss here and now.
And it looks like I am going to change my dissertation topic to ASL
production. It would be not much more than keeping the old topic and
changing the language. I have to thank Joseph for the nudging he has given
me in this direction. I'm giving myself a year of ASL exposure before
deciding on the exact focus.
So now I am learning ASL as rapidly as possible. It's a joy, one that has a
way of bumping aside my normal responsibilities! I am also trying to get up
to speed on Deaf issues.
As for SW, my eyes are open and watching. No doubt evolution will continue
as more and more schools adopt it. It should be a fascinating process to be
party to. And meanwhile I have my workbook and dictionary to help me learn
new signs. What a discovery!
Keep up the good work!