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From:  "Angus B. Grieve-Smith"
Date:  Fri Nov 9, 2001  1:04 pm
Subject:  Re: Is SignWriting Necessary?

I agree with your thoughts, Stuart. My humorous take on the video
issue was: if video is the equivalent of writing for sign languages, does
that mean that people whose VCR is still flashing 12:00 are illiterate?

Your criticism and Antonio Carlos's are apt: it may be possible to
create a quick video with a Webcam or a camcorder, but it is not as easy
as picking up a pad and paper, or typing an email. And if you try and
stick a video to a bulletin board or a refrigerator door, you don't
communicate the way you would have if you had done that with a piece of

As to the other question of "visual ASL, written English" (leaving
aside the fact that written English is visual too), I'm reading a
fascinating book right now:

Joseph, John Earl. 1987. Eloquence and power: The rise of language
standards and standard languages. New York: Basil Blackwell.

As I read Joseph's description of the creation of standard
languages, I was continually struck by the similarities between the
current situation of ASL with respect to English, the situation of English
with respect to Latin in the Middle Ages and the situation of Latin with
respect to Greek during the rise of the Roman Empire.

Here's a quote from Joseph (pages 104-105) that seemed
particularly germane to your posting. In this case, ASL is the
"vernacular" and "L", and English is the "Standard H":

> The expansion of vernacular function does not occur without strong
> resistance. Prejudices die hard, and one will invitably encounter the
> opinion that the vernacular is not suitable for use in formal domains
> [...]. Much of the resistance comes from the higher social strata,
> persons whose ability in handling Standard H may have been acquired at
> the expense of years of effort.

-Angus B. Grieve-Smith
Linguistics Department
University of New Mexico

  Replies Author Date
5944 Re: Is SignWriting Necessary? Valerie Sutton Sat  11/24/2001

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