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Language master

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RE: Language master

Postby witega » Wed 06.27.2007 2:22 pm

Do you mean 'sign language', the language used by deaf people? Yes, ASL (American Sign Language) is generally considered a separate language and I would assume the same is true of other sign languages. Although that assumes true ASL as 'spoken' by the deaf--the sign language most hearing people learn is more a pidgin.
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RE: Language master

Postby sei » Wed 06.27.2007 2:40 pm

witega wrote:
Do you mean 'sign language', the language used by deaf people? Yes, ASL (American Sign Language) is generally considered a separate language and I would assume the same is true of other sign languages. Although that assumes true ASL as 'spoken' by the deaf--the sign language most hearing people learn is more a pidgin.


Yes, that's what I mean.

I'm sorry, I don't understand. What do you mean by "is more a pidgin"?
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RE: Language master

Postby Yudan Taiteki » Wed 06.27.2007 2:44 pm

Yes; ASL has a reputation as being a set of crude, improvised gestures, or simply a set of gestures that match English. But actually the grammar of ASL differs from English and it is a language in its own right -- for instance, ASL is a Subject-Object-Verb language like Japanese rather than a SVO language like English.

Also, linguistic research into ASL (and other sign languages) have shown that its acquisition by children mirrors the acquisition of spoken language, and also the change of ASL over time resembles the change of non-sign languages as well. All of this suggests that sign language for deaf people is relying on the same biological basis as spoken language for non-deaf people.

There's a very famous case of the spontaneous development of a sign language by deaf children:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nicaraguan_Sign_Language
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RE: Language master

Postby sei » Wed 06.27.2007 2:59 pm

Well, I mentioned it because I've seen some people around me who know sign language, and yet, when they are asked what languages they know, they don't mention it.

Anyway, I was thinking of learning it. I find it extremely interesting. I already know a few words. Don't have a clue about its grammar though.
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RE: Language master

Postby witega » Wed 06.27.2007 3:46 pm

As Yudan said, ASL (and presumably other sign languages) has its own grammar and even vocabulary. By 'pidgin', I mean that many people who supposedly learn it as a second language actually learn it as 'this sign is this English word' and then use normal English grammar and syntax. It's the equivalent of taking, "I go to the library because I like to read" and rendering it in Japanese as "私 行く に ライブラリー だから 私 欲しい 読み". They're all Japanese words (with one English word 'spelled in Japanese, the equivalent of using the sign alphabet to spell out an English word you don't know the sign for), but the structure is English making it neither real English or real Japanese. A motivated Japanese person might be able to figure out what I meant the way ASL speakers figure out what is being signed to them, but that's different from fluent conversation.
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RE: Language master

Postby sei » Wed 06.27.2007 4:05 pm

Yes, but if I do learn it, of course I'll be learning it the proper way. It's like any language to me. And of course I wouldn't learn Japanese like that. :)
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RE: Language master

Postby Dehitay » Wed 06.27.2007 5:11 pm

To say ASL and English have different grammar is technically correct, but that's because ASL doesn't have grammar. I want to say the only rule in ASL is that all the words for a sentence have to come next to each other, but I've seen even this rule broken a number of times. I work at Communications Services for the Deaf and I have to deal with ASL's 'grammar' on a regular basis. There are no rules to it. Deaf people are just so used to speaking in this manner without method that they can usually (but not always) understand what another deaf person is saying even when it's completely different than the way they sign.

While a majority of organizations consider ASL a separate language, I personally consider it simply a visual script. To me, the way most deaf people sign is nothing more than broken English.
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RE: Language master

Postby witega » Wed 06.27.2007 5:43 pm

And somehow, oddly, every linguist who has ever studied ASL (and the other major sign languages) has found a grammar. The fact that you have a personal opinion based on an inability to fluently speak the language proves very little.
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RE: Language master

Postby Yudan Taiteki » Wed 06.27.2007 6:00 pm

Dehitay wrote:
To say ASL and English have different grammar is technically correct, but that's because ASL doesn't have grammar. I want to say the only rule in ASL is that all the words for a sentence have to come next to each other, but I've seen even this rule broken a number of times. I work at Communications Services for the Deaf and I have to deal with ASL's 'grammar' on a regular basis. There are no rules to it. Deaf people are just so used to speaking in this manner without method that they can usually (but not always) understand what another deaf person is saying even when it's completely different than the way they sign.

While a majority of organizations consider ASL a separate language, I personally consider it simply a visual script. To me, the way most deaf people sign is nothing more than broken English.


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RE: Language master

Postby sei » Thu 06.28.2007 7:50 pm

Dehitay wrote:
To say ASL and English have different grammar is technically correct, but that's because ASL doesn't have grammar. I want to say the only rule in ASL is that all the words for a sentence have to come next to each other, but I've seen even this rule broken a number of times. I work at Communications Services for the Deaf and I have to deal with ASL's 'grammar' on a regular basis. There are no rules to it. Deaf people are just so used to speaking in this manner without method that they can usually (but not always) understand what another deaf person is saying even when it's completely different than the way they sign.

While a majority of organizations consider ASL a separate language, I personally consider it simply a visual script. To me, the way most deaf people sign is nothing more than broken English.


I don't want to contradict this, since I know almost anything on the subject. But, in the opinion of an unexperienced person, isn't this weird?

I mean, if you just say in English: "car, grocery, ketchup", it could be understood many ways. Though if you add the verb "went" and the verb "buy", or even just one of them somewhere in the middle of those words, doesn't it automatically have some sort of grammar in it?

I find this sort of confusing, though now I am curious to check into it more.
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RE: Language master

Postby Dehitay » Thu 06.28.2007 9:40 pm

grammar implies a set of rules as to how sentences should be constructed. To a deaf person who doesn't use English grammar, any one of the following sentences might come out all meaning the same thing as "James lost his backpack in San Diego"

James has pack back San Diego lost
James pack back lost San Diego
San Diego pack back James lost
lost pack back James San Diego
pack back James lost San Diego

actually, there's a good deal more possibilities that shouldn't surprise you. However, it becomes a massive pain for me when the sentences get bigger. If you think this follows any kind of grammar, I need you to define grammar for me.
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RE: Language master

Postby Yudan Taiteki » Thu 06.28.2007 10:40 pm

ASL has a grammatical device (involving movement of the head or parts of the head) that resembles particles in Japanese, and is also a so-called "pro-drop" language (meaning that understood subject and objects can be omitted). Also like Japanese, it is structured around a "topic/comment" word order.

That explains the freer word order of ASL.
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RE: Language master

Postby Infidel » Thu 06.28.2007 11:33 pm

actually, I was watching an educational show on communities of deaf children who had no schooling in sign language--They developed their own sign language. It had grammar.

communication requires grammar, but grammar is different for different languages.
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RE: Language master

Postby Kim Sara » Fri 06.29.2007 4:57 am

Because of my job natures, I really want to learn Japanese and Korean (besides English for sure), and I know that knowing more than 3 languages is so amazingggggggg. That's enough !!! Otherwise, I can become popeye B) :o :D
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RE: Language master

Postby Xurma » Mon 07.02.2007 11:23 am

Kim Sara wrote:
Because of my job natures, I really want to learn Japanese and Korean (besides English for sure), and I know that knowing more than 3 languages is so amazingggggggg. That's enough !!! Otherwise, I can become popeye B) :o :D


Knowing 3 languages isn't that amazing :)

Well depends what languages they are... If you can speak fluently English, Japanese and Korean, then it's great.

I can speak fluently 3 languages, Finnish, Estonian and English. But it isn't that great because Finnish and Estonia aren't very big languages. Here is my opinion how great it is how many top 30 spoken languages you know:

1 language out of 30 most spoken languages: Normal
3 languages out of 30 most spoken languages: Good
5 languages out of 30 most spoken languages: Good!!
7 languages out of 30 most spoken languages: Very good!
10 languages out of 30 most spoken languages: Very very good!
15 languages out of 30 most spoken languages: Superb!
20 languages out of 30 most spoken languages: Very super hyper good!!!!
25 languages out of 30 most spoken languages: It's very unique and incredible!!!
30 languages out of 30 most spoken languages: SUP3R L33T H4X SK1LLZ1!!!!!

sei wrote:

Actually, it is, considering most people are only bilingual.

And that is rude to say Xurma...


Oh, I was editing this post. :) You're right, 3 languages is great.

Sorry Kim for that ;)
Last edited by Xurma on Mon 07.02.2007 1:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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