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From:  Valerie Sutton
Date:  Fri Jan 8, 1999  2:14 am
Subject:  Re: Bilingualism & SignWriting

On Mon, 4 Jan 1999, Jerry Spillman wrote:
>It has become my philosophy, then, that since I
>use American English and American Sign Language, I should learn to write
>the American Sign Language in the format readable by the deaf
>(SignWriting), as well as I can write in American English, readable to
>those who will communicate in American English. That would mean that I
>have learned two language systems, and therefore, qualify as Bilingual.

January 7, 1999
I think you are correct, Jerry, that any person who can communicate well in
both English and ASL is bilingual. And reading and writing both of those
languages certainly reinforces and enhances the knowledge of the languages.
Linguists argue that writing is not a language in itself, and although that
is true, it is also true that reading and writing can help teach language,
and help people remember language.

What I found fascinating, when learning my second language, Danish, was
trying to decide when I could say I was truly "fluent". Living in Denmark,
I noticed that fluency in Danish happened gradually for me - it was not
obvious when it happened. After about a year of living with Danes I spoke
Danish daily and did not speak English, but it was not until several years
after that, that I felt I could say that Danish was as natural for me as my
native language, English.

And reading and writing Danish had a big influence on me. I feel strongly
that learning to read and write increased my knowledge of the language. If
nothing more, it helped me learn new words, and it helped me see my own
mistakes in grammar, so I could improve. So reading and writing actually
helped me speak better.

I hope learning SignWriting will give people a deeper understanding of ASL
or any signed language. We need more Sign Language Literature. Reading
literature written in ASL may actually help some people learn ASL better.

This weekend I have guests from Spain visiting me. They are using
SignWriting in Spain. Then in the middle of next week I will return to the
more advanced reading materials in ASL - which are almost done but need
finishing touches and I am really looking forward to sharing this new
literature with all of you! As you know, I will be posting some of the
advanced reading on the web on January 18th.

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

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