|SignWriting List Forum|
Hope Hurlbut |
Date: Sun Feb 6, 2000 4:48 am
Subject: Re: Question About American Sign Language....
Dear Valerie and List Members.
As far as I know the Philippines uses ASL, but I know for a fact that
they have adapted some of the signs to suit Philippine culture. I
have been told that in Singapore the Deaf use SEE but I have not had
enough contact with the Deaf there to know how much is SEE, and how
much is adapted from SEE. A few years ago I attended one sign
language class conducted by a Deaf there who was at home on holiday
from Gallaudet. He claimed to be teaching ASL to some hearing people.
(Actually my curiosity is becoming more and more piqued to cross the
border and contact some of the Deaf in the next two or three months,
and find out what is going on.) The Malaysian Deaf claim that the
Singaporean Deaf use SEE, but I wonder if it is a modified version of
ASL, as most of Malaysian Sign Language (MSL) is.
I just got back last night from another data collecting trip in
Peninsular Malaysia. My Deaf companion and I covered all but one
state collecting more word lists and stories in the local versions of
Malaysian Sign Language. All these have to be entered into the
SignWriter Program and then the lists need to be compared. My gut
feeling is that in some states the local MSL is very close to ASL. ASL
was introduced in one Malaysian state in 1963, in another in 1965 or
so and finally into the only school for the Deaf at the time in 1976.
Since then the Malaysian Federation for the Deaf (MFD) has been making
a deliberate effort to get rid of ASL and only use MSL which is about
70-75% the same as ASL depending on where you collect the words from.
The President of MFD is Deaf himself. I had a second interview with
him 2 days ago, and he says they have a preliminary version of an MSL
dictionary ready for publication (similar to the style of the Random
House ASL Dictionary). Funding was recently received. MFD is really
keen to "standardize" MSL, and the dictionary will certainly help with
However one Deaf man told me that he is really keen to learn ASL and
spends a lot of time on the internet gleaning new signs. I suspect he
is typical of many Deaf here.
When I was in Hong Kong one time and bumped into some Deaf, they told
me that they use ASL. However some of their signs are very different.
I suspect it is a dialect of ASL, but there has been no testing done
to prove or disprove it.
A year or so ago I was in contact with a Deaf lady, Berta Foster,
whose late husband started many schools for the Deaf in several
countries in Africa. ASL was introduced to all the schools, but Berta
seemed to think that in some places at least a local version of a
signed language was developing, based on ASL but using many local
signs (probably similar to the Malaysian situation). As you say,
Valerie, ASL seems to spreading around the world like English has. It
remains to be seen what sign language develops in these many
I hope my insights help a little.
______________________________ Reply Separator _________________________________
Subject: Question About American Sign Language....
Author: at Internet
Date: 19.01.00 09:02
January 19, 2000
Hello SignWriting List!
The List has been rather quiet lately, hasn't it? I have a heavy
workload right now, so of course I was hoping others might post some
A lot of people write to me privately with pages and pages of email
reports and questions, and of course I am really happy to read all
the wonderful messages. If you are one of those waiting for a
reply...you have not been forgotten...I am trying to get to all the
wonderful reports soon ;-)
Here is a recent question from one of the private messages:
"Perhaps you can answer a question for me. You seem to have a lot of
interest expressed in SW from foreign teachers. I assume that they are
applying your methods to their own sign language and that ASL is not
practiced in such countries. My question is: Is ASL used in any country
other than our own and if English is not their language do they translate the
ASL signs using words of their own language. I think the answer to both
parts of this question is no, but I would like to have the opinion of an
Hmmmm...I bet there are a lot of people on the SW List who are more
expert on the subject of ASL than I am.
I hope people will write to tell us what countries use ASL...
In regards to SignWriting in other countries....English-speaking
Canada and the USA seem to be the two places using our SignWriting
materials in American Sign Language.
The other countries use SignWriting symbols to write their own signed
languages, which has nothing to do with ASL. At present, SignWriting
is used to write signed languages in Spain, Nicaragua, Brazil,
Denmark, Flanders (Belgium), Ireland, Italy, France, the UK, Norway,
Malaysia, Germany - and there are several more countries too....the
list is growing - and all of those countries do not use ASL.
So does anyone on the List know of another country using ASL besides
the USA and Canada?
Thanks for your question -
Valerie Sutton at the DAC
Deaf Action Committee for SignWriting
Center For Sutton Movement Writing
an educational nonprofit organization
Box 517, La Jolla, CA, 92038-0517, USA