American Sign Language Essay

American Sign Language Essay

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Sign language has played an important part throughout history; it has removed the barrier between those who can hear and those who are deaf. Sign language is a form of communication that does not rely on verbal speech. It uses visual-spatial medium to express communication (Stewart & Akamatsu, 236). Hands, fingers, body, and facial features are used to visually transmit linguistic information. The signs are formed by hands, which convey symbols that are similar to spoken words and phrases. These facial and body movements serve as articulations and modifiers of speech. Through different body movements the deaf are able to communicate with each other and find a common way to connect in a non-vocal way.
The historical account of American Sign Language is traced to the early nineteenth century. The structure and lexicon of American Sign Language (ASL) were derived from French Sign Language (FSL) during the early 1800’s (237). Evidence has proven that the first established American school for the deaf was in Hartford, Connecticut, in 1817. The founders of the particular institution were Thomas Gallaudet and Laurent Clerc. They were both educated in the use of French Sign Language prior to the establishment of their institution in America. They originally used French Sign Language in their institution, which influenced the signing behavior of many of their deaf students. Since then, it has been a calculated fact that sixty percent of signs in American Sign Language derived from French Sign Language. The other forty percent of signs in ASL were created by the deaf community. After a century, the format of ASL became recognized as a legitimate language. In turn, there have been many misconceptions throughout the years of how America...


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...language and speech validity. It provides a great way for children and adults alike to learn how to speak through body language. Sign language is a wonderful way to talk with the silent tone of body motions and communicate with others who share the same knowledge and passion of talking with visual movements.

Works Cited
Aronoff, Mark, Meir, Irit, and Wendy Sandler “The Paradox of Sign Language”. Morphology”Language, Vol. 81, No. 2 (Jun., 2005), pp. 301-344.
Drasgow, Erik.“American Sign Language as a pathway to linguistic competence”. Exceptional Children. Vol. 64.3 (Spring 1998). pp.329.
Stewart, David A., Akamatsu, C. Tane. “The Coming of Age of American Sign Language”. Anthropology & Education Quarterly, Vol. 19, No. 3 (Sep. 1988), pp. 235-252.
Stokoe, William C. “Sign Language Structure”. Annual Review of Anthology. Vol. 9 (1980). pp. 365-368.

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