Friday, December 28, 2007

What's in a Sign?

ASL University

It wasn't until I was in my late teens when I realized that there was a difference between the way I signed (a mix of SEE-Signed Exact English and Signed English/PSE-Pidgin Signed English) and ASL (American Sign Language). I was mainstreamed in a private school for the last five years of my school-age life. I had just started to hang around with d/Deaf people more when I was a senior in high school. It was a part of my school life as a child. I didn't really "forget" signs. I got a little rusty, but quickly got back into it.

Once again, I started losing touch with that part of my life. I got married, divorced, and remarried. Both times to hearing guys. I was working full-time and had children. I couldn't really get-together with my d/Deaf friends as much as I would have liked. They moved farther away and had started families of their own.

I had a co-worker who was really interested in learning signs. I introduced a few new words to her every week. Some days we were assigned to work across the room from each other. We just communicated by signing to each other.

Then there was a merger at work and I took the severance pay. I decided to go back to school. I found out how outdated (I didn't even know signs could be outdated) my signs were. One of the interpreters introduced me to ASL Browser, a website that demonstrated signs. I like to use this website to find a sign for a word I didn't know how to sign instead of fingerspelling it. I love to go back and look up words, even ones I knew, just to see if it's been modified. Most are basically the same, but sometimes I do see differences.

Once again, I am at a standstill with signing. I do try to teach my kids some signs. Out of habit, we are mostly oral. My sister recently took an ASL class, so who knows?

Sign language is not just gestures; it's a language of its own. A visual, expressive language.



At Sat Dec 29, 08:48:00 PM , Blogger Laura said...

Thanks for the link, Shari. I taught my son a few signs out of a toddler/infant signing book when he was young and it will be interesting to learn more.

At Mon Dec 31, 10:58:00 AM , Blogger Sue Flaska said...

I have to say that sign language is one of the more complicated things to least for me. I have taken a class and did ok with it, but it was hard. My sister is deaf, but by the time I came along she was a very good lip reader, and I learned the alpha for more difficult communications. Anyway, my daughter's preschool teaches them signs every month which is pretty darn cool if you ask me. They enjoying doing simple signs to my sister, and she loves it too.

At Tue Jan 01, 04:13:00 AM , Blogger Amrita said...

sign language is a skill in itself i think.

Happy New year to you Shari

At Tue Jan 01, 10:48:00 AM , Blogger Laurie said...

This was an interesting post. . .I, too, have always been oral but did not realize that signs could get outdated.

Happy New Year from Tennessee!

At Tue Jan 01, 10:49:00 AM , Blogger Laurie said...

P.S. I'm watching the Wisconsin-Tennessee game! Wanna take bets on who wins? My husband is a Wisconsin alumni and I'm a Tennessee alumni!


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