Wednesday, November 7, 2012

WHAT is American Sign Language? The basics

So I realized I've been going on for weeks now with my ABC series - we're already at M! But we have so many new fans and while I was talking to someone learning sign language, I mentioned SEE1 and SEE2 and he looked at me like I had two heads ... that's when I knew I cannot assume people understand all the concepts I use in my posts or previous posts and all the aspects of ASL. So let's go back to some basics!
compliments of

Before we can get into WHAT is American Sign Language (ASL), let's quickly touch upon WHAT is language

Language has three major components and to be a language it needs all these components:
1. semantics (vocabulary)
2. syntax (grammar)
3. pragmatics (social rules)

When you look up 'language' in the dictionary, you will find the following:
1. 'body of words and systems for their use common to people who are of the same community or nation, the samegeographical area, or the same cultural tradition. (

2. expression of human communication through which knowledge, belief, and behavior can be experienced, explained, and shared. This sharing is based on systematic, conventionally used signs, sounds, gestures, or marks that convey understood meanings within a group or community. (

Ok, sign language ...

What is sign language? manual (using the hands, fingers, etc) communication method utilizing body language, facial expressions and other nonverbal methods.

The problem now lays in the different sign languages and the confusion starts ...

American Sign Language (ASL): complete and complex language that utilizes the hands, fingers, face, and body to to create the expressions of a persons wants, needs, comments, and more. It has its own culture and community such does Standard American English. It is not a one-to-one correlation with the English language. It has grammatical rules.  

Now Signed English, Signed Exact English (SEE) and Pidgin Signed English (PSE) - -- I think that's a discussion for a later date, but just know they are variations of sign language - they are not ASL. Don't want to share too much knowledge at one time!

Happy Signing!

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