forum SignWriting List Forum
  Message 3117  |  Previous | Next  [ Up Thread ] Message Index
From:  Cecelia Smith
Date:  Thu Mar 16, 2000  12:25 am
Subject:  Fingerspelling as English

True up to a point. However, fingerspelling is not signing, >>

Actually, I beg to differ. Fingerspelling is a critical part of ASL, it is
used frequently during signed conversations, and follows all the rules and
requirements of any other sign. It is an old concept that Fingerspelling is
not ASL...and has provided for quite a lot of heated debate in linguistics
circles...until people realized that, just as there are words that represent
the letters of the alphabet, there are signs that represent the letters of
the alphabet.... the spoken word "eye" stands for the letter "i" the
sign that has the little finger extended, the others curled into a fist, and
held at approximately shoulder height, palm out represents the letter "i"
By the way.... the spoken German word "ee" represents the written letter
"i". Or, for the letter "J" we speak the word "jay" but Germans say
"yote" -- but we all write "J".

Fingerspelling is NOT simply something borrowed from English. The signs used
to represent the letters of the alphabet seldom resemble (although some do)
the letters they represent.

>Those handshapes when strung together form English
>words, ergo, that IS a Sign Written form of English.

ummmmmm.... No, again. The logic here is a bit fuzzy. Yes, those ASL
handshapes when strung together, usually do represent an English
word....However, to be picky here, putting a few words here and there does
not make a language. They represent an English word. Sometimes. But back
to an earlier comment I made, if I fingerspell Julio Am I fingerspelling
English? Or Spanish? How about the word Paris Is that English or
French? Just as I am typing them.... did I type Julio in English or in
Spanish? Or is that Italian? Those handshapes, when strung together
REPRESENT something. Sometimes it is English. Sometimes it is not.

Sometimes, as in the case of what are inaccurately called Loan Signs, they
represent a concept that is used in the language of ASL and are independent
of the actual letters .....for example the Loan Sign slow motion
video tape of many different Native Deaf signers, is seen to be signed quite
clearly using only the letters B and Y -- and even then, the B is
frequently barely present, and the sign is made using movement that is not
really considered permissable by fingerspelling rules....So you have B-Y
but they don't mean by? So you have two Fingerspelling handshapes strung
together that form a word (by) but don't mean that word. So.. are the
handshapes still English? I don't think so.

Anyway.. that's my food for thought.

  Replies Author Date
3124 the view from ringside, 2 Joe Martin Fri  3/17/2000

  Message 3117  |  Previous | Next  [ Up Thread ] Message Index