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From:  Valerie Sutton
Date:  Thu May 14, 1998  7:13 am
Subject:  Re: Language History or Standardization of ASL

On May 13, 1998, Ben Karlin wrote:

>Let's not confuse self-expression, writing, literacy and standardization as
>the same thing.

Yes. Ben makes a very good point here. This has been on mind and I too,
have been wanting to say something about "standardization" and what that
really means.

"Standardization of writing" does not mean that people are forced to sign
or speak the exact same way. It has to do with standard ways of "spelling"
signs or words, and standard ways of writing sentence construction (grammar
and syntax), but that does NOT limit self expression. And of course there
will always be MANY correct ways to write the same thing.

Let me give you an example. When I moved to Denmark, as you know I had to
learn Danish, and it was my second language. I learned to speak a certain
dialect of Danish, called the "Copenhagen dialect". One day, I traveled way
out in the country, in a part of Denmark called Jutland. In Jutland, they
speak another dialect of Danish called Jysk. My Danish friends from
Copenhagen warned me..."Valerie," they said, "you will NEVER understand
Jysk!" Jutland I met a nice lady who spoke Jysk, and it is true,
I did have trouble understanding her. So I gave her a piece of paper and
asked her to write the sentence I did not understand in Danish, and I
understood her writing! Why? Because the written form of Danish is
"standardized" and even though she "pronounced the Danish words
differently", they were "spelled the same".

So when Shiona Watson posted her message about "Standardization of ASL", it
is my interpretation of Shiona's message, that she was talking about a
standard writing system. And that will happen with time. Right now, we are
writing and writing and writing signs, and people are writing differently -
BUT - I can see a natural standardization of "spelling" signs occurring -
and in another message - in a day or so - I will discuss what is happening
with the standardization of "sign spellings".

All the best -

Valerie Sutton :-)

Sutton at the DAC
Deaf Action Committee For SignWriting
Box 517, La Jolla, CA, 92038-0517, USA
(619)456-0098 voice
(619)456-0010 tty
(619)456-0020 fax

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