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From:  Michael Everson
Date:  Mon Feb 7, 2000  7:32 pm
Subject:  Re: Gallaudet University & Signwriting

Ar 05:06 -0500 2000-02-07, scríobh James Womack:

>> It does, but it follows quite naturally from the (inexplicable) attitude
>> that "deaf languages were never meant to be written down". As if _spoken_
>> languages _were_ meant to be? Human beings were speaking languages for
>> millennia before they ever write them down..... ;-)
>That's true. It is, however, no license to auto-refuse a written
>representation of any language, ASL or otherwise.

I agree with you. It's an appalling attitude. It's almost as bad as telling
someone to sit on his hands. But really it evinces a lack of belief that
sign languages and spoken languages are really equal entities.

>> Let's imagine a household with Deaf people in it. They are literate in
>> SignWriting and in English. One wants to leave a note for the other on the
>> refrigerator. Will he choose to write ASL or English?
>They will probably choose SW because their mindsets would have
>been deprogramed from an English only mentality, and pride in being able
>to put their own language (ASL) in paper. SW would become a very
>real part of the Deaf's process of equilibrium at this point and one of
>the reactions would be cultural pride represented by SW.

Well, I don't know. I mean yes, there is a certain amount of politicalness
to language choice, but at the end of the day it's a question of
communication. The note on the refrigerator says "I'll be home after 6",
whether written in SignWritten ASL or in English. That's the kind of thing
I was referring to, when wondering which would be used. Perhaps SW in that
situation. On the other hand, leaving a note "buy a bottle of isopropyl
alcohol" would probably be written in English, wouldn't it? That's a
question of terminology though. (Of course messages can always be written

>If you are unfamilair with the process of equilibrium theory, I'd be
>happy to post the stages.

I haven't heard of it as such. I do know a fair bit about bilingualism and
code switching. I myself am multilingual.

Valerie tells me that in Nicaragua you won't find Spanish notes on Deaf
refrigerators because they don't know Spanish anyway. Which just goes to
prove that everything can happen.

>> Let's imagine a household with hearing people in it. They are bilingual and
>> literate in Irish and in English. One wants to leave a note for the other
>> on the refrigerator. Will he choose to write Irish or English?
>It depends on how acculturated they are. If the househld takes great pride
>in its Irish heritage, they may use Irish. If they are totally acculuturated
>into the USA, they won't.

Heh. I was thinking of the situation of bilinguals here in Ireland, not the
situation of Irish-Americans.

Michael Everson ** Everson Gunn Teoranta **
15 Port Chaeimhghein Íochtarach; Baile Átha Cliath 2; Éire/Ireland
Vox +353 1 478 2597 ** Fax +353 1 478 2597 ** Mob +353 86 807 9169
27 Páirc an Fhéithlinn; Baile an Bhóthair; Co. Átha Cliath; Éire

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