Date: Wed Mar 15, 2000 1:59
SignWriting List Forum
Subject: the problem of added morphemes
see quote below:
Actually, the problem is that the designers of SEE and other systems did not
deal with the issue of the created morphemes adequately. It was assumed that
because we hearing/literate folks understood that the two separate signs
TOTAL LY were meant to represent the single English word TOTALLY, that
deaf kids would understand it. Instead, they parsed the two signs as two
completely different words. Same with GOVERN MENT and other similar
Kids raised with the SEE and other similar Signed English systems did not
acquire English. When CASE (Conceptually Accurate Signed English) was used,
comprehension of concepts went up, but understanding the rules and structure
of English did not.
.... An example, in SEE the sign for butterfly is to sign BUTTER and then
sign FLY (as in a bird flies). It makes a bad joke in English...why did
the boy throw the stick of butter out the window? He wanted to see the
It is just as bad in Signed English. The pun, however, would make no
sense at all in CASE or ASL, because the sign for butterfly has nothing to do
with a dairy product.
Another argument is that the fingerspelled signs are representations of the
English Alphabet. Well.. yes they are..to an extent.. However, the loan
sign J-O-B, cannot be said to be spelling the word job. It is signed with a
quick flick of the wrist from the J hand shape, to the B hand shape, with the
B-palm facing the signer instead of outward. It no longer uses the signs
associated with fingerspelling and has evolved into a sign in and of itself.
Many formerly fingerspelled signs have developed similarly. Also, I can
spell A-L-O-H-A, or B-I-E-N or C-E-N-T-A-V-O or B-O-N
J-O-U-R. None of those are English. So is it fair to say that the
fingerspelled signs that combine to mean these terms is English?
Just as when I sign WHAT'S-UP If I say What's Up at the same time,
am I signing English? What if I sign WHAT's-UP and say Que Pasa? Am I now
"signing" Spanish? No. Not at all.
Just as Joe's past interpreter could interpret into ASL what was being said
in other languages, the meaning is what is the same. Not the mode of
clear as mud yet?
<< I assume it is a problem the designers of
SEE and other systems have dealt with. Maybe a special accusative case
marker??? I know that similar polysemy is
common--Chinese /TA/ comes to mind; it is articulated (signed/spoken) the
same for "he" or "her," but the written character is different. The
representation doesn't need to be perfect, as anyone knows who has ever
tried to spell English words.