Smart, Fun, and Fascinating Facts About the Use of Sign Language
by Maria Emilia Maisterrena
Also known as ASL (or American Sign Language), this method of communicating with those who are either completely deaf or struggle with their hearing has been around for over two centuries. On the surface, watching those who silently speak, understand, and communicate with others using their hands may appear foreign to most, but it’s actually a fascinating language.
In 1814, the original inception of ASL came from a doctor who was attempting to teach his neighbor’s young deaf daughter how to communicate. At the time, Dr. Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet quickly realized that while his student was extremely intelligent, attempting to teach her how to read and write in the traditional manner wasn’t working. Along with other budding medical professionals along with a rise in the population of deaf people continued to grow, a new language was formed.
Back to the Basics
Even though the good doctor didn’t experience much in the way of success attempting to use the ABCs, and 123’s in his early teaching attempts, there was still an alphabet created that played a key role in developing this language. When imagining these letters, look at a chart of ASL and you’ll see the letters shaped by fingers (and hands) are similar to how they appear on paper aka the shape of an L, the appearance of an O, the curve of a C.
Forming Words and Using Pronouns
As with most languages, once the alphabet is learned, students begin to form words, sentences, and the use of pronouns. With ASL, pronouns are most often presented on the face with a letter above the nose are masculine and below being feminine. For example, the letter F across the forehead is father while a thumb on the chin with an open hand means mother.
Slipping Into Slang
As with different languages, there are often slang terms that come into play that make interpretations difficult at best. Along with ASL, there’s something called Pidgin English that’s like a form of street or slang of this standardized method of communication. Basically, it means that often younger users have developed their own phrases and words that differ from the rules and the actual itself language.
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