LINGUIST List 7.1122

Thu Aug 8 1996

Disc: Arabic Sign Language

Editor for this issue: Ljuba Veselinova <>


  1. Dave Harris, Arabic Sign Language
  2., RE: 7.1110, Disc: Arabic sign language

Message 1: Arabic Sign Language

Date: Mon, 05 Aug 1996 12:26:36 CDT
From: Dave Harris <>
Subject: Arabic Sign Language
?This argument is not as logical as it sounds; learning ANY language
?as a first language is in fact less restrictive of communication than
?substantial delays which result in learning NO language during childhood.
?(See again Judy Kegl, and also Rachel Mayberry). I will provide proper
?citations within 48 hours, but want to put this information out as
?quickly as possible.

?If communication with the Arab-speaking (or any speaking and literate) world
?is a grave concern, urge a bilingual education program which makes use of
?the Arabic Cued Speech tool to accurately display spoken Arabic phoneme
?by phoneme, while simultaneously providing a through grounding in the
?native sign language. Content can be taught in Sign Language, while
?literacy is taught through Cues.

?Carolyn Ostrander 

I disagree. Of course knowing one or more languages is less
restrictive than knowing no language. That's not even an issue. It
makes so much more sense, though, to teach them ASL so that they'll
have the ability to communicate with other deaf people outside
Tunis. Yes, some amount of literacy in Arabic would be nice, but it's
already such a huge job to teach hearing kids literary Arabic that I
wouldn't even know where to start in teaching it to deaf kids. Of
course, they should be able to read signs, maybe newspapers,
whatever. I believe, however, that it would take a tenth the time to
teach them to read a novel in English or French than in Arabic. You
speak of accurately displaying spoken Arabic phoneme by phoneme, yet
spoken Arabic (particularly that of North Africa) is so vastly
different than the written variety that you hardly know where to draw
the line in terms of phoneme differentiation. I go along with the
others in saying that ASL/FSL is the answer.
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Message 2: RE: 7.1110, Disc: Arabic sign language

Date: Tue, 06 Aug 1996 11:11:28 GMT
From: <>
Subject: RE: 7.1110, Disc: Arabic sign language
i must admit that i had never given the subject of arabic sign
language much thought. i had always assumed that it exists. just
yesterday i saw two people on the bus speaking in sign; at least one
of them could also render parts of his speech acoustically, and that
part of his speech was in arabic. occasionally we see programs on
egyptian television that are interpreted simultaneously in sign. this
leads me to believe that there is some "standard" or "recognized" sign
language in egypt, at least. in that egyptian arabic is something of
an arabic lingua franca, owing to egyptian dominance in arab media,
(sort of like american englsih is something of a lingua franca owing
to american dominance of english media), it may be true thyat the sign
used on egyptain tv is also the arabic standard. i may have some
resources to exploit here, if further information is desired.

david wilmsen director, arabic and translation studies division center
for adult and continuing education american university in cairo
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