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A Few Things to Know About American Sign Language

What might people who use American Sign Language (ASL) want people who don’t use it to better understand? DT Bruno, Kallissa Bailey, Ardavan Guity, Leyland Lyken, and Felicia Williams answer that question in this video from NPR, a conversation that includes Deaf cultures and communities, accents and varieties in ASL, and the linguistic structure of ASL. Plus, a bit of background from wikipedia:

Despite its wide use, no accurate count of ASL users has been taken, though reliable estimates for American ASL users range from 250,000 to 500,000 persons, including a number of children of deaf adults. ASL users face stigma due to beliefs in the superiority of oral language to sign language, compounded by the fact that ASL is often glossed in English due to the lack of a standard writing system.

ASL signs have a number of phonemic components, including movement of the face and torso as well as the hands. ASL is not a form of pantomime, but iconicity does play a larger role in ASL than in spoken languages. English loan words are often borrowed through fingerspelling, although ASL grammar is unrelated to that of English.

Related reading: Gallaudet President Navigates From World Of Hearing To Sound Leadership Of The Deaf.

Next: A Tour of the White House’s West Wing in Sign Language from 2016 and two year old Ava & her mum talk over dinner in sign language.

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