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From:  Cheryl Zapien
Date:  Thu Nov 5, 1998  3:33 pm
Subject:  Re: A general ASL question

Proof positive that signwriting improves grammar, vocabulary and sign formation
for the beginning student! *smile* Thanks Valerie. Cheryl

Valerie Sutton wrote:

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

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