LINGUIST List 2.179

Monday, 29 Apr 1991

Disc: Signed Languages

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  1. Karen Christie, Re: Banned Languages
  2. Karen Christie, Re: Sign

Message 1: Re: Banned Languages

Date: Sun, 28 Apr 1991 19:01 EST
From: Karen Christie <>
Subject: Re: Banned Languages
I) In response to Gorbet's and Goldsmith's discussion of Pidgin Signed English: personal response about PSE: The terminology is a problem. How can a
true pidgin develop across spoken English and signed ASL? There is a modality
difference....if a person in Montreal, whose first language was ASL, begins to
associate with the French deaf community which uses LSQ (another natural sign
language) and a 'contact' language begins to develop....what would THAT be
called??? Certainly, it would be more of a pidgin in the 'traditional' sense?
What is PSE?
A contact-variety of sign ENglish, English influenced ASL,or a bilingual
dialect of ASL... that the phenomenon of more English like signing exists I
think is not questionable....that it has the potential to become a
natural/native language is.

...I have never heard of a community of deaf people who use PSE as their native
language...where is the culture/literature associated with PSE?...

...some form of PSE, or more English-influenced ASL is often used by
interpreters on TV or in educational settings. However, we could come up
with a great debate about whether or not that is what Deaf people want. ASL
is still an oppressed language in the US, so I would ask WHO is making the
decision about the language/code for interpreting in those situations?

Clayton Valli was mentioned. This is his writing in the Deaf American
"I have been working on separating two languages, ASL and English when I use
them, that is, signing in ASL, and writing and reading in ENglish. Like other
deaf people, I found myself tending to use a combination of ASL and English
when I approached any formal situation. But I never felt comfortable with
that. I picked up this method from my I am empowering myself to
use ASL and ENglish appropriately as separate languages..." There is a formal
register of ASL that Valli is skilled in and can use, however, the many years
of training (i.e. oppression) in SCHOOL have taught him it was appropriate
to use another *method* of communication.

II) On changing schools, I agree with Millie G. There is no way to simply
withdraw a deaf child from his/her current school in order to provide access to
education in ASL. If the child does not live near Fremont School for the Deaf,
Indiania School for the Deaf, or The Learning Center in Mass, there is NO
choice (except between an oral or 'signed English' program). Ironically,
public schools and colleges are increasingly accepting credits for ASL courses
as part of the foreign language credits....while schools for deaf students
continue to deny deaf children access to an education in ASL.
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Message 2: Re: Sign

Date: Sun, 28 Apr 1991 19:42 EST
From: Karen Christie <>
Subject: Re: Sign
J. Goldsmith mentions both Lucas and Valli and descriptions of 'PSE."
The best description I know of appears in the book, The Sociolinguistics of
the Deaf Community in the chapter by Lucas and Valli.
While they described this contact signing as clearly different from those of
Signed English Codes (as Gorbet mentioned) with very little evidence of
influence from those codes, the natural contact signing was indigenous and
possibly more accurately described as 'a collection of individual grammars.'

It is interesting that the writers sometime call this contact signing
'other than ASL' signing. And they conclude that the language contact
situation today results in part from the fact that ASL has been devalued and
ignored. Therefore, the political question becomes...if ASL becomes formally
recognized and respected will PSE continue to 'act' like a language?

[End Linguist List, Vol. 2, No. 179]
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