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Charlize Maltby

Language Arts

Mr. Blair

30 October 2017

American Sign Language

Have you ever heard of sign language? Have you ever seen a conversation using sign

language? The first time, in real life, I saw a conversation being spoken in sign language, it was

amazing. I was astounded of how each person in the group knew what each other was saying

without speaking out loud. That was one of the main reasons I have a passion for sign language.

Another main reason that inspired me to learn sign language and evolve passion for

American Sign Language (ASL), is the television show called Switched at Birth. Two girls, Bay

(hearing) and Daphne (deaf), are switched at birth and given to the opposite families. Until they are

16, they dont find out until Bay took a blood test at school and had a fight with her parents that

her blood type was different from theirs. Her non-biological parents take Bay to the doctor to get

her blood tested. The results showed that Bay and Daphne had been switched at birth and had

been given to opposite families. Throughout the episodes, the two families are reunited and

become one non-biological family from that point on. Throughout the 5 seasons of this show, they

go through hard times together and faces many challenges against Daphne's deafness and Bays

passion for art. They go through death, loss, rejection of colleges, hard decision making,

accusations of felonies, and most of all, learning about being switched at birth.

This show inspired me to learn ASL. I started to download apps on my phone that teaches

me ASL. Another thing the show Switched at Birth did for me was made me realize my passion
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for sign language. It made me see things differently and made me motivated to learn sign language.

Even though I am not deaf or hard of hearing, I want to learn this unique language.

The structure of languages makes the way to properly use each language and also makes

each language different from every other. The structure of ASL is very different from any other

language I have ever heard of. ASL is based on its grammar systematics. Sign language does not

use complete and correct sentences from the English language. For example, in English, Are you

married? is Are you married, but in ASL, it is said as Married you? or You married? ASL

is completely different but in a way the same from the English grammar and language. It uses

English words but doesnt go by the English grammar rules or function. ASL is closely related to

LSF (French Sign Language) in terms of structure but diverse from their word origins.

The history of American Sign Language is extensive and complex. ASL became an official

language starting in a school for the deaf founded on April 15, 1817, by Thomas Hopkins

Gallaudet, Dr. Mason Cogswell, and Laurent Clerc and was built in Hartford, Connecticut. This

school, American School for the Deaf (ASD) brought together many different types of sign

language from all over the world and combined the American language into what is now known as

ASL. ASL uses facial expressions, hand gestures, and torso movements in its language. It is

proven that 58% of ASL signs are related to LSF signs. Before ASL became an official language,

there were traces of American Sign Language look-alikes back in 1541. This way of

communicating by signing was used by Native American tribes to negotiate trades and treaties or

who owned what land. There are also records of sign languages forming in Maine, Massachusetts,

New Hampshire, and England.


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Interpreting is translating vocal words from one person into sign language for the other

and vice versa. Interpreting uses signs and the vocal communication to enable interchange between

the deaf/hard of hearing and hearing communities. To become a qualified interpreter for someone,

the job requires a certain degree in ASL. You must take numerous classes in ASL. Interpreting for

two people of different languages can happen many ways. One way is one on one and in person

with that group. Another 21st century way is through a device. A person talking on a phone to a

deaf person can be interpreted by an interpreter and they can translate what each person is saying

to the other. The way this is possible is by the interpreter, signing person, and hearing person be on

one phone call. The interpreter interprets everything the signing person saying words to the hearing

person and signs everything the hearing person says to the signing person.

I can use my knowledge of ASL in many ways in todays world. One way is by

communicating with a person who signs in American Sign Language. I can also interpret for two

people of different languages. Although I am not fluent in ASL, I can still understand some signs

and I am working hard to accomplish learning American Sign Language. Another way I can use

my comprehension of ASL is by speaking to others in ASL when I dont want the person next to

me knowing what I am saying. For example, in the television show Switched at Birth, Daphne was

accused of a felony but had a previous record of threatening a senator because of his actions. Bay

came to Daphnes rescue and took the blame because if Bay hadnt, Daphne would have gone to

prison. The way Bay and Daphne worked this out at the police station was through ASL. If they

were both uneducated about ASL, Daphne could have gone to prison or Bay could have been in

serious trouble.
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In conclusion, I think American Sign Language is a very interesting language that I plan to

invest my time in learning. ASL comes from generations of deaf communities and helps others

communicate with each other. Sign Language has many factors that make it unique from all the

other languages. Finally, I have a strong passion for learning ASL and I hope to achieve my goal

of becoming fluent in American Sign Language.


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Bibliography

Study.com, Study.com,

study.com/articles/Be_an_American_Sign_Language_Interpreter_Salary_and_Career_Info.html.

American Sign Language (ASL), www.lifeprint.com/asl101/pages-layout/grammar.htm.

American Sign Language Facts by SignGenius,

www.signgenius.com/american-sign-language/american-sign-language-facts.shtml.

Google Search, Google,

www.google.com/search?q=asl%2Bfingerspelling%2Bquiz&rlz=1CAACAR_enUS707US707

&oq=asl%2Bfinger&aqs=chrome.4.0j69i57j0l4.5674j0j7&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8.

American Sign Language. National Association of the Deaf, 6 Dec. 2016,

www.nad.org/resources/american-sign-language/.

Andrea Lackner Linguist focusing on sign language research, Alpen-Adria University Klagenfurt.

Understanding the amazing complexity of sign language. The Conversation, 27 Oct. 2017,

theconversation.com/understanding-the-amazing-complexity-of-sign-language-72813.

Contrastive structure: grammar. Contrastive structure: a basic grammar in American Sign

Language, www.handspeak.com/learn/index.php?id=60.
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LibGuides: American Sign Language Research Topics: Selected Websites. Selected Websites -

American Sign Language Research Topics - LibGuides at Lincoln High School,

lhslibpdx.libguides.com/asltopics.

Research topic ideas for your paper. Research topics: ideas for your paper,

www.handspeak.com/study/index.php?id=125.