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10 Things You Should Know About American Sign Language Dr. Nanci A. Scheetz, CSC Professor, VSU Dr. Susan Easterbrooks Professor, GSU.

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Presentation on theme: "10 Things You Should Know About American Sign Language Dr. Nanci A. Scheetz, CSC Professor, VSU Dr. Susan Easterbrooks Professor, GSU."— Presentation transcript:

1 10 Things You Should Know About American Sign Language Dr. Nanci A. Scheetz, CSC Professor, VSU Dr. Susan Easterbrooks Professor, GSU

2 1. American Sign Language (ASL) is Not English on the Hands complex languageASL is a complex language used within and among members of the Deaf community. natural languageIt is a complete natural language, quite independent from English (Lane, Hoffmeister, & Bahan, 1996).

3 2. ASL Is A Visuo-Spatial Language signing spaceSigned messages are produced in the signing space. visual perceptionASL is based on visual perception and visual conveyance of ideas, information and feeling concepts In essence, space provides the backdrop for the expression of the language.

4 ASL is a Visuo-Spatial Language Continued Space is used toSpace is used to… –Convey noun/verb relationships –Identify nouns and pronouns –Refer to individuals who are not present –Illustrate time sequences –Reflect spatial relationships –Express distance between locations –Compare and contrast who what when where

5 3. American Sign Language has Grammatical Features Some of these features includeSome of these features include: –Use of Space –Indicating Tense –Temporal Aspect –Prepositions/Locatives –Classifiers –Topic/Comment –Conditional Sentences

6 ASL Grammatical Features Continued Negation WH Questions Yes/No Questions Directional Verbs Listing Rhetorical Questions

7 4. English Word Endings Are Not Used to Depict Tense in ASL English word endings such asEnglish word endings such as: –ing as in Walking –ed as in Walked –s or es as in Walks are not part of ASL

8 Indicating Tense in ASL In American Sign Language… –Time is generally indicated at the beginning of a sentence –Tense indicators such as now or today can be signed at the beginning to designate the tense –Yesterday, recently, before and long ago are frequently signed to indicate past tense –Future tense can be indicated by signing future, will, tomorrow, or later

9 Indicating Tense in ASL Continued English establishes tense with verb inflections such as ed, ing, etc. and time adverbials may occur at the beginning or end of a sentence Once tense is established in ASL it is not necessary to repeat it in every sentenceOnce tense is established in ASL it is not necessary to repeat it in every sentence When a change in tense occurs within a narrative a new tense indicator appears alerting the listener to the time frame.

10 1.Prepositions in English Locatives in ASL English prepositions may pose a challenge to deaf individuals because they are frequently represented in ASL through the use of locatives. When prepositions are signed in English the English preposition is represented; however when the preposition is not represented in ASL the meaning may be vague.

11 Prepositions/Locatives Continued When signing sentences in ASL such as: –I am going to the store the word to is incorporated into the sign for GO-TO –Put the plate in the cupboard the word in would be incorporated into the sign for PLATE and the location would be designated by sign movement and location in space.

12 6. Adjectives in English and ASL English and ASL are both rich with adjectives. However, each language represents them differently. Adjectives in ASL may be placed before or after the noun. After the noun they create a pattern that is contrary to English structure. When describing a tall man with red curly hair in ASL you could sign either: MAN TALL HAIR RED CURLY or TALL MAN RED CURLY HAIR

13 Classifiers Used as Adjectives Classifiers can be used as size and shape specifiers (SASS) In these instances they can be used to describe the visual characteristics of an object or a person. Once an object is identified it can be described using a classifier

14 Classifiers Representing Size and Shape Several classifiers that are used to show size and shape. Two of them are: –CL:F (F handshape) is used to show a small round object such as a coin, piece of candy, a spot on an animal, etc. –CL:B (B handshape) is used to show a large pile, a big stomach, a handful of something http://www.jal.cc.il.us/ipp/Classifiers/credits.swf

15 7. Negation There are several ways to form negative sentences in ASL. 1.Non-manual markers: produced in isolation Negative headshake Eyebrows squeezed together 2.Non-manual markers: combined with signs No Never Not none http://www.lifeprint.com/dictionary.htm

16 Negation Continued No is used in response to a Yes/No Question None can be used to indicate zero quantity and can be signed before or after the verb Not and never occur either before the verb or at the end of the sentence thus producing a negative consequence

17 8. The Verb To Be ASL shows the verb to be in a variety of ways: –Incorporating it into the verb phrase I am going to work –Including it as part of a reference for a noun or pronoun as in the sentence: She is over there or –Including it as part of a descriptive adjective as in: He is tall –English sign systems have signs for is, are, was, were, am, and be. However, these are not signed in ASL.

18 9.The Role of Fingerspelling in American Sign Language Fingerspelling is a manual representation of the language that is spoken. In ASL it is used to represent: –Proper names –Titles –Addresses –Words that there are no signs for

19 Fingerspelling Continued spelling out English wordsFingerspelling is a process of spelling out English words where there is no sign equivalent in ASL. corresponds to the English alphabetThe fingerspelled alphabet corresponds to the English alphabet rapid sequence, pausing slightly between wordsWhen fingerspelling the signer produces the handshapes in a rapid sequence, pausing slightly between words (Easterbrooks & Baker, 2002).

20 The American Manual Alphabet

21 10. ASL Does Not Use A Written Format ASL is produced visually with signs simultaneously communicating information and other grammatical information. Signed messages are produced in the signing space. Unlike spoken language that follow a linear order, sound by sound, word by word, and can be represented in a written format, ASL is produced visually.

22 ASL Does Not Use A Written Format Continued As a result, information that students comprehend visually/conceptually may become challenging if sign to print connections are not made. When teachers/interpreters provide students with the sign to print link the opportunity for reading comprehension to occur is enhanced.

23 10 Things to Remember 1.ASL is Not English on the hands 2.ASL is a visuo-spatial language 3.ASL has grammatical features 4.English word endings are not used to depict tense in ASL 5.Prepositions in ASL are shown in locatives

24 10 Things to Remember Continued 1.Adjectives in ASL may be placed before or after the noun 2.There are several ways for form negative sentences in ASL 3.The verb to be is signed differently in ASL and is not represented by English signs 4.Fingerspelling plays a role in ASL 5.ASL does not use a written format

25 References Easterbrooks, S. & Baker, S. (2002). Language learning in children who are deaf and hard of hearing. Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon. Scheetz, N. (2001). Orientation to deafness. Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon Scheetz, N. (2005). Forming connections: understanding the difference between ASL and Contact Signing. Unpublished document Scheetz, N. (in press) Building American Sign Language Skills. Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon.


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