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Thoughts on ASL / Train Go Sorry

ben's picture

There were a whole bunch of aspects of Deaf culture that I had not considered before reading this book, and lots of things I had not considered about ASL before the book and the talk from Fiona. One of the things that particularly amazed me about ASL as a language was simply how three-dimensional and nuanced it is--you can change certain features of a sign (who it's about, how enthusiastic it is, etc) simply by doing the sign differently, or in a different space. It's incredible to me how much the grammar depends on where the sign is performed physically, and the example Fiona gave about talking about people (where you establish a space where the person will be referred to, and then do all the signs talking about that person in the space) was something I had never even considered and isn't even possible in spoken language. This allows ASL to communicate a lot of information very efficiently, taking a sentence such as "I agree with him" and reducing it to one sign. I really like languages and linguistics, so I found this particularly cool.


I also hadn't realized how school-centered Deaf culture was, which makes sense, as schools such as Lexington and colleges such as Gallaudet are places where lots of deaf people meet and establish a culture. It's also interesting, though not particularly surprising, how regionally varied ASL is, since it's a lot more difficult to sign over long distances (or at least it was until the advent of things like FaceTime), and pockets of Deaf culture have the potential to be more isolated, without all the mass media and interconnectedness so commonplace in the hearing world.