LINGUIST List 2.600

Tue 01 Oct 1991

Disc: ASL

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Directory

  1. , Re: 2.563 Queries
  2. Fan mail from some flounder?, This was bounced back, so please post -- re ASL as a natural lg.
  3. "Michael Kac", Re: 2.591 Responses
  4. Ronnie Wilbur, BU and ASL

Message 1: Re: 2.563 Queries

Date: Fri, 27 Sep 91 10:24:08 -0700
From: <suzannegarnet.berkeley.edu>
Subject: Re: 2.563 Queries
Re: Maggi Sokolik's horror at ASL not being recognized as a foreign language
(for purposes of satisfying an UG foreign language requirement)
Your dean is not alone in his unenlightenment. At Berkeley a debate has
been carried for years not about whether ASL constitutes a bona fide
language--no one denies that is does--but, similarly, whether it can be
used to satisfy the FL requirement. Each time the issue has come up the
decision has been a resounding "no." I don't recall, now, the details of
the controversy, but the issue of whether the language is written and has
a written literary tradition is one argument that's consistently out forth.
--Suzanne Fleischman
 French Dept.
 UC Berkeley (suzanneucbgarne.berkeley.edu)
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Message 2: This was bounced back, so please post -- re ASL as a natural lg.

Date: Mon, 30 Sep 1991 10:40 EST
From: Fan mail from some flounder? <SDFNCRritvax.isc.rit.edu>
Subject: This was bounced back, so please post -- re ASL as a natural lg.
To: swanndivsu
ASL is a natural language, which resembles creole languages in some
respects (I have an old paper in Siple, "Understanding Language through
Sign Langugae Research," Academic Press, 1978, that deals with that issue).
More recent work shows syntactic and especially morphological complexity
that is not characteristic of creole languages.
The confusion often arises because signing itself is merely a *channel*,
so it is possible to sign "in English" -- that form of signing has been
called variously a pidgin or a code for English, but it is a bit more
complicated than that, since it uses ASL signs, and often even ASL
morphology especially for agreement, in English word order. This is
a natural outgrowth of contact between the deaf and hearing communities.
In addition, there are some artificial codes for English that have been
invented for use in the schools.
Hope this information helps you.
Susan Fischer
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Message 3: Re: 2.591 Responses

Date: Mon, 30 Sep 91 12:54:09 -0500
From: "Michael Kac" <kaccs.umn.edu>
Subject: Re: 2.591 Responses
Re Einstein and the origins of the Principle of Relativity: My own checking
of sources causes me to agree with John O'Neill that the idea should be cre-
dited to/blamed on Galileo, not Newton.
Re ASL (and hello, Alan Harris!): The College of Liberal Arts at the University
of Minnesota has accepted ASL in satisfaction of its second language require-
ment for about 4 years now. I have written to the administrator at BU identi-
fied in the posting by Margaret Sokolik informing him of this fact and of an
interesting empirical tidbit: when students here fail the proficiency examina-
tion in ASL, one of the sources of failure is signing that is considered too
English-like by the raters.
Michael Kac
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Message 4: BU and ASL

Date: Mon, 30 Sep 91 22:59:57 EST
From: Ronnie Wilbur <WILBURVM.CC.PURDUE.EDU>
Subject: BU and ASL
I can't help but remark on the irony of it all... I was a faculty member
at BU from 1975 to 1980 - even got tenure from the notable John Silber!
While there, in 1979, I published the first (and only) comprehensive text
on the linguistic structure of American Sign Language, covering everything
from history to misinterpretations of transcription to extant theories of
syllable structure to derivational and inflectional morphology to the
business of non-fixed word order thanks to verb agreement (and acquisition
and sociolinguistic variation and neurolinguistic investigations of
lateralization and aphasia and yes, even classroom practices and their
results in deaf students' problems with English). The university whose/
thats (!) name is cited as my academic affiliation has obviously not been
positively affected by my work! I knew I made the right decision to move!!
Interestingly enough, here at Purdue, where the issue is just now being
dealt with because I've just now figured out how to work the system,
the business of ASL being a language has already been stipulated; rather
the concern of various honchos is the "literary status" of ASL. Since ours
is a language requirement rather than a literature requirement, our debate
will likely center on whether one really wants to exclude roughly 98% of
the world's languages and still call us a School of Liberal Arts. Stay
tuned for the next exciting episode ...
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