forum SignWriting List Forum
  Message 550  |  Previous | Next  [ Up Thread ] Message Index
From:  Valerie Sutton
Date:  Thu Nov 5, 1998  4:53 am
Subject:  Re: A general ASL question

November 4, 1998
All languages have several different ways to say the same thing...not only
does every language have synonyms, but there are also different sentence
structures one can use correctly within each language. For me, moving to
Denmark and learning to speak Danish by living with Danes had a profound
effect on my understanding of learning languages. I "experienced" language
with the natives. A terrific experience I wholeheartedly recommend if you
truly want to become fluent in a language.

But fluency takes years, even under those circumstances. There are several
layers of fluency. I noticed that in the beginning I was insecure and
therefore memorized certain phrases and I clung to those phrases like a
person who feels they are drowning...clinging to a life preserver. I became
rigid in my thinking. One day, a Dane corrected a mistake I made, and I
argued with them! And suddenly I realized what I was doing - I was arguing
with a native speaker and of course I was wrong! So I learned to become
flexible and accept the fact that I would never be native and that was OK
and to expect surprises when I spoke with Danes and assume that I did not
know everything. My fluency went way up when I became flexible.

So my suggestion to all those new to learning ASL or any signed
language...take your children and your family to Deaf events and Deaf
gatherings and start conversing with the natives...and absorb everything
Deaf people teach you. And every time you bump into a synonym you did not
know, just accept it as one more step towards fluency.

But now...on to SignWriting. Today I received a question about a sign
written in one of our documents on our web site. The sign was the sign for
"recently", which is at the beginning of this page on the web:

Fond Memories by Paulette Sottak

Paulette is Deaf and native to ASL. Her sign for "recently" is not the
standard one that beginning students learn in ASL class. In other words,
Paulette used a "synonym". The sign she wrote was tapping on her shoulder -
I remember back when Paulette wrote the article ...I commented to Paulette
that she had taught me a new sign for "recently". No question it is not the
"standard" sign, but it is most definitely correct ASL.

Sometimes students of SignWriting think that there is only one way to write
something and they ask me why something is written that way - when actually
it has nothing to do with SignWriting. It was the author's choice of
vocabulary :-)

Valerie :-)

Valerie Sutton at the DAC
Deaf Action Committee for SW


Center For Sutton Movement Writing
an educational nonprofit organization
Box 517, La Jolla, CA, 92038-0517, USA

  Message 550  |  Previous | Next  [ Up Thread ] Message Index