Lecture 26: Signed Languages | Summary and Q&A

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January 27, 2023
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Lecture 26: Signed Languages

TL;DR

ASL, or American Sign Language, is a distinct language with its own grammar and structure, not just a coded version of spoken English.

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Questions & Answers

Q: Is ASL a coded version of English?

No, ASL is a distinct language with its own grammar and structure, unrelated to spoken English. It has its own lexical signs and syntactic rules.

Q: How do ASL and English differ in sentence structure?

ASL has a different word order from English, with subject-object-verb (SOV) being the most common pattern. In contrast, English typically uses subject-verb-object (SVO) order.

Q: Are there any similarities between ASL and spoken languages?

While there are differences, ASL can borrow certain gestures or signs from spoken languages, such as using the pronoun "I" by pointing to the chest or nose, similar to English or Japanese Sign Language.

Q: How do facial expressions play a role in ASL?

Facial expressions are essential in ASL, used to convey emotions, indicate questions, or emphasize certain aspects of signs. They are an integral part of the language and its grammar.

Q: How is space used in ASL to indicate referents?

ASL utilizes designated spaces in front of the signer to represent different individuals or groups when referring to them. This allows for clear reference and reduces ambiguity.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • ASL is a signed language used by many deaf people in America and is not simply a translation of spoken English into hand movements.

  • Signed languages, such as ASL, have their own grammar, with differences in word order and sentence structure compared to spoken languages.

  • ASL incorporates non-manual components, such as facial expressions and body movements, to convey meaning and create a more complex linguistic system.

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