American sign language

American sign language is the dominant sign language of the Deaf Americans (which include the Deaf communities in the United States, in the English-speaking parts of Canada, and in some regions of Mexico. Although the United Kingdom and the United States share English as a spoken and written language, British Sign Language (BSL) is quite different from ASL, and the two sign languages are not mutually intelligible. American Sign Language (ASL) is a complete, complex language that employs signs made with the hands and other movements, including facial expressions and postures of the body. It is the first language of many deaf North Americans, and one of several communication options available to deaf people. ASL is said to be the fourth most commonly used language in the United States. ASL is a language distinct from spoken English; while it borrows many elements of English (e.g., spelled words, "initialized" signs (for example the signs for group and team are the same motion but the hand are held with the sign for the letters "G" and "T" respectively to denote meaning), and direct translations of English idioms, it nonetheless possesses its own syntax and grammar and supports its own culture. ASL is a natural language as proven to the satisfaction of the linguistic community by William Stokoe, and contains phonology, morphology, semantics,syntax and pragmatics just like spoken languages. It is a manual language or visual language, meaning that the information is expressed not with combinations of sounds but with combinations of handshapes, palm orientations, movements of the hands, arms and body, location in relation to the body, and facial expressions. While spoken languages are produced by the vocal cords only, and can thus be easily written in linear patterns, ASL uses the hands, head and body, with constantly changing movements and orientations. Like other natural sign languages, it is "three dimensional" in this sense. ASL is used natively and predominantly by the Deaf and hard-of-hearing of the United States and Canada. In spoken language, the different sounds created by words and tones of voice (intonation) are the most important devices used to communicate. Sign language is based on the idea that sight is the most useful tool a deaf person has to communicate and receive information. Thus, ASL uses hand shape, position, and movement; body movements; gestures; facial expressions; and other visual cues to form its words. Like any other language, fluency in ASL happens only after a long period of study and practice.

which has a separate symbol or diacritic mark for every phonemic hand shape. and for instruction. however. punctuation. . Such signs are often referred to as "initialized" signs because they substitute the first letter (the initial) of the corresponding English word as the handshape in order to provide a more specific meaning. not a written language. fingerspelling #YES may be more emphatic than signing YES). Writing systems ASL is often written with English words in all capital letters. There is no oneto-one correspondence between words in ASL and English. There are two true writing systems in use for ASL: a phonemic Stokoe notation. ASL users do so by raising the eyebrows and widening the eyes. it is a language completely separate from English. and it also allows for regional usage and jargon. and position (though it leaves something to be desired in the representation of facial expression). It's important to note that only a small number of signs have such intialization. motion. Whereas English speakers often signal a question by using a particular tone of voice. when made with the F handshape. ASL is no exception. as well as the incorporation of alphabetic letters from English words into ASL signs to distinguish related meanings of what would otherwise be covered by a single sign in ASL.In ASL. and a more popular iconic system called SignWriting. Even though ASL is used in America. Sometimes. two hands trace a circle to mean 'a group of people'. It contains all the fundamental features a language needs to function on its own--it has its own rules for grammar. ASL includes both fingerspelling borrowings from English. fingerspelling the manual alphabet is used primarily for proper nouns. It is also used for emphasis (for example. For example. ASL evolves as its users do. ASL is a visual language. it means ' family'. This is. the sign means 'class'. ASL users may ask a question by tilting their bodies forward while signaling with their eyes and eyebrows. which represents each sign with a rather abstract illustration of its salient features. for clarity. SignWriting is commonly used for student newsletters and similar purposes. which is known as glossing. and much of the inflectional modulation of ASL signs is lost. Every language expresses its features differently. a method used simply to teach the structure of the language. and sentence order. Several kinds of groups can be specified by handshape: When made with C hands.

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