forum SignWriting List Forum
  Message 67  |  Previous | Next  [ Up Thread ] Message Index
From:  "Karlin, Ben"
Date:  Wed May 13, 1998  8:22 pm
Subject:  Language History and Imperialism (Was: Standardization of ASL)

bettibonni wrote in answer to -- I forget who -- sorry:

> I was very intrigued to find this difference in grammatical structure, and
> can't help but feel that SignWriting is the way to standardize ASL across
> North American to the benefit of all users, deaf and hearing alike. After
> all, this is what increased literacy has done for every other language in
> the World.

BB> I have mixed feelings about this, and am not sure this is a totally
BB> assertion.

I also have mixed feelings about it but don't spend much time worrying
about it. English, for example, has had written forms for centuries but
standardization of English is fairly recent. Even still, although we
value "standardization" in this current age, most language-bound
communities do not go to the lengths of establishing an Academie which
rules on appropriate usage. Growing up I remember reading the Chicago
Tribune which had a wacky campaign to standardize spelling: Thru for
through, etc etc. It still is the one voice in the wilderness. Let's
not confuse self-expression, writing, literacy and standardization as
the same thing

> I firmly believe that if children learn SignWriting before they learn
> English, their literacy level in English will increase and English will be
> easier for them to learn. After all, as it stands, English is not only a
> second language to native ASL users, but it is also limited only to the
> written form. That is a much harder way to learn any language, particularly
> if you cannot already read your own..

BB> Somehow I get the feeling that ASL (or any signed language) is an
BB> language and the purpose of any teaching technique would be to
master a spoken
BB> language?
BB> Or did I read all this wrong?

I suggest you read it wrong. While this group seems more attuned to
catching the implications that Deaf people are inferior to Hearing and
Deaf Language is inferior to Hearing Language, I hope this will be one
spot where we never duke it out on those issues. My reading is that
since many children learn to read their own language by learning to
associate certain arbitrary symbols with meanings (concepts, right?)
that allowing Deaf children to do the same will give them a leg up on
learning other / foreign / spoken-written / hearing languages. It will
also allow them to learn other / foreign sign languages, won't it.

Hearing is not better or worse than Deaf but it is different.

What a joy to send this to the new list!
Ben Karlin
Staff Interpreter for the Deaf
St Louis Psychiatric Rehabilitation Center
H007B, 5300 W Arsenal St, St Louis, MO 63139-1494
314 644-8270 V/TTY 314 644-8115 FAX

  Replies Author Date
69 Re: Language History and Imperialism (Was: Standa James Womack Thu  5/14/1998
74 linguists Joe Martin Thu  5/14/1998
70 Re: Language History or Standardization of ASL Valerie Sutton Thu  5/14/1998

  Message 67  |  Previous | Next  [ Up Thread ] Message Index