Did you know that American Sign Language is not related to English?

On the occasion of Deaf Awareness Week, we wanted to talk about the language of the deaf community, American Sign Language (ASL). Contrary to public perception, ASL is not related to English. ASL, a manual language that relies on movement rather than sound to denote meaning, actually grew out of French Sign Language in the early 1800s. The picture at left depicts finger spelling which uses hand motions to spell words in English but is not part of ASL.

Though deaf people and communities have been communicating in sign languages for a long time, ASL was formally born at the American School for the Deaf in 1817. Inspired by his neighbor’s deaf child, Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet traveled to France to learn how to educate deaf children. At the Royal Institution for the Deaf in Paris, he studied successful methods teaching sign language to children with Abbe Sicard. However, Gallaudet was not able to complete his studies before he had to return to the United States, and he asked that Laurent Clerc, a deaf teacher at the Institution, come back to the States with him. Clerc agreed, and the two men went on to found the American School for the Deaf in Connecticut. Because of Clerc’s French background, ASL was heavily influenced by French sign language, as well as by the sign languages that were being used in America at the time, particularly that of the large deaf community on Martha’s Vineyard. Just as British English changed as it came to the United States, so did French Sign Language adapt to its new environment. (British sign language is very different than ASL.) ASL has continued to evolve since its inception. For example, the vocabulary has expanded to include new words like Internet and video blog.

Like any spoken language, ASL has a unique sentence structure and symbols for different words and ideas. ASL is not like Charades, a simple pantomime of meaning. Many signs are impossible for a non-ASL user to understand, just as a spoken language sounds meaningless to someone who does not speak it. The central features of ASL are hand shape, palm orientation, hand movement, and hand location, in addition to gestural features like facial expression and posture. Emphasis can be added to by changing the facial expression, such as raising your eyebrows or pursing your lips. In the 1960s, linguist William Stokoe, a professor at Gallaudet University, proved that ASL was its own independent language because it had its own syntax, grammar, and morphology, as spoken languages do. Stokoe’s original paper on the linguistics of American Sign Language is available online here. His two influential books, Sign Language Structure and A Dictionary of American Sign Language on Linguistic Principles, changed public opinion about ASL. Stokoe also created the first written transcription system for ASL, called Stokoe notation, which is made of Latin letters and numerals as well as glyphs denoting hand movements. Today it is not widely used except by linguists.

Do you use ASL? Have you ever wondered about how the language works?


Food & Drug Packaging October 1, 2007 | Henry, John I never pay attention to instruction manuals and it drives my wife nuts. Using a manual to dope out how to install a dishwasher or set up a DVD player just feels like cheating to me. (I’m also not good at asking directions when lost. It’s probably a guy thing.) This may be OK for household appliances but not for packaging machinery. Unfortunately, too many equipment manufacturers build great machines and then fail to provide equally great operating, maintenance and set-up manuals. go to website how to install a dishwasher

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED] There are several reasons for this:

* Many packaging machines are customized for each application. Sometimes this means modification of a standard machine. Other times it means a customized machine from the ground up. Customized machines require customized manuals which are time consuming to write. An inverse law of documentation is in play: The more customized the machine is, the harder the manual is to write.

* The manufacturer, and especially the writer, may not understand how the machine will be used in operation. More importantly, they may not match the level and style of the manual to the person who will be using it.

* Some machine builders use engineers to write the manual. Engineers are great at many things; technical writing is not always one of them. Other builders will use in-house or outside technical writers who may not completely understand the machine.

* It’s hard to write a manual before a machine is completed and tested. Once it is completed and tested, the customer usually wants it shipped immediately.

* Then there’s money. Customers often buy machines on the basis of initial price rather than overall cost. When they don’t, builders think they do. Good manuals cost and builders are reluctant to charge for them.

Bad manuals cost even more. These costs accrue over the life of the machine in poor set-ups, improper operation and inadequate maintenance. Unfortunately, the machine cost is visible, the lifetime costs are hidden. in our site how to install a dishwasher

All of these problems are compounded in imported machinery by translations. It’s easy, but wrong, to blame machine builders for these problems. Customers share a lot of the blame by not insisting on good manuals (and being willing to pay for them!). Builders must also do their part by showing the customer the value of a good manual.

The Packaging Machinery Manufacturers Institute (www.pmmi.org) publishes an excellent Technical Documentation & Style Guide. Buyers should insist that machine builders use this as a guideline for their manuals.

A final thought: Machine manuals need to be profusely illustrated with pictures, diagrams, drawings and charts. One picture is worth a thousand words.

A good manual, by itself, is not enough. People need to use it. But that’s another column.

John Henry, Certified Packaging Professional (CPP), is renowned as the Changeover Wizard. His company, Changeover.com, specializes in improving line efficiencies for packagers by reducing downtime. Contact John at johnhenry@changeover.com or 787-550-9650.

Henry, John


  1. ask -  April 10, 2015 - 10:01 am

    Hello colleagues, how is all, and what you desire to say about this
    post, in my view its truly remarkable designed for me.

  2. Marli -  October 10, 2013 - 3:06 am

    I always wish that sign language would be the same in any country. It’s hard enough to learn the signs, so when I’m trying to make clear that I want three lemmons, I’d rather they’d not slap me in the face because I’m somehow offending someone who’s familiar with the FSL instead of the Dutch Sign Language.

    • shirley -  May 6, 2014 - 11:54 am

      I always wish that languages would be the same in every country. Its hard when I travel from Spain to France I have to use a different translation book. Really? you cant complain about signs if you are ok with languages. And, signing is its own language. Its beautiful. If its a problem for you, then don’t learn, stay where you are.

      • brmari -  March 11, 2016 - 9:50 pm

        Relax!…It was JUST a comment!

  3. A person -  December 19, 2012 - 2:22 pm

    I learned sign language in 4th grade, I never knew that! I only know the alphabet (which I learned in 4th grade)

  4. donna~ -  September 25, 2012 - 7:11 pm

    I sign ASL.I learned in college back in ’94.I love to sign.It is God’s Beautiful way of talking to the deaf. I sign on Sunday mornings in my church. I am in college again, in,NM, trying to get the school to except ASL as a foreign language. If you dont know the signs then u cant talk sign. Just like a foreign language….i can speak spanish and it counts.What gives?

    • shirley -  May 6, 2014 - 11:55 am

      Deaf, not deaf.

      • Lissy -  June 4, 2015 - 12:07 pm

        “deaf” refers to anyone with hearing loss. “Deaf” only refers to people who choose to associate themselves with the Deaf Community. you can be “deaf” and not “Deaf”.

        • brmari -  March 11, 2016 - 9:54 pm

          Well said Lissy…Shirley, relax please.

  5. agent j -  September 25, 2012 - 1:09 am

    I was born into a deaf house, so asl is my first language and english is my second language, somebody said I was a koda, I can’t spell it but what is a kota?

    • Julie -  April 16, 2014 - 9:59 pm

      It’s been years since you posted but if you’re still wondering why they called you “koda”. . .
      It’s “CODA” and it stands for “child of deaf adults,” I believe.

      • Mia -  July 28, 2014 - 2:19 pm

        KODA is also accepted, it stands for Kid of Deaf Adult…it is interchangeable.

  6. Joe -  May 3, 2012 - 7:01 pm

    Good article but I want to clarify a few minor points. William Stokoe was not a linguist. He dabbled in linguistics but he was an English major and teacher. His PhD. was in English, not in linguistics. I do not want to undermine his work because without him ASL would not have been recognized as a true language that early. In fact, there may still be dispute about ASL’s linguistic nature. I do study ASL. I am an ASL-English interpreting student. I appreciate this article because it does dispel many false concepts about ASL (e.g., that it is English on the hands. It is not. Sign English is NOT a language. It is invented by hearing people who look down on the Deaf and their culture.)

  7. killa-king1 -  April 9, 2012 - 3:21 pm

    sign language is very difficult but soon as you start knowing them you will get use to it. I’m just learning some steps so when people out there dont know how to talk and know’s sign language I could use my hands.The signs that I will be understanding and the person. you guy should start learning also if you want.

  8. Jillian Marie Roeser -  February 25, 2012 - 5:54 pm

    I Love You So Much Raelly I am Hawes Be With You On My Sineds 48.To 8 Hores I What You Raelly Band I What to See You Cand.

  9. Chrissy -  November 22, 2011 - 2:08 pm

    I have learned SEE for a while now and have no idea how to use ASL. I dont understand the Sentencing structure. Is there a cheap way to learn? I love to sign songs and stuff but when I watch some of the Youtube videos in Sign, Its BEAUTIFUL and different then how I would sign it in SEE. Can any one help? If so please email me Shyann_Lee_82@yahoo.com
    Please and Thank you!

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  11. Von -  October 28, 2011 - 2:52 pm

    FYI: The proper way to refer to those who are culturally Deaf is to simple use the capital “D”. However, for those who have a hearing loss and thus not in the Deaf communiity are referred to as deaf. It is usually considered politically incorrect to decribe them as Deaf -mute or hearing impaired. Also, I found a cool site at http://www.jw.org that has 46 different sign languages.

  12. zalika 95 -  October 19, 2011 - 5:20 pm

    i am learning SL to FooGriffy

  13. FooGriffy -  October 17, 2011 - 8:18 am

    I’m trying to learn ASL. It’s not easy without a good reason (I can hear and speak perfectly and I don’t know anyone hard of hearing, deaf, or mute) and without someone to practice with.

  14. IgotBupkis, President, United Anarchist Society -  October 8, 2011 - 8:06 pm

    >>> One day I think that it could be an international language.

    Did you not READ?

    (British sign language is very different than ASL.)

    You can’t even go to the UK and “speak” there. ASL is probably like English, a fair number of foreign speakers know it, but there’s no guarantee outside of American “possessions”.

  15. Alvean Jones -  October 6, 2011 - 11:00 am

    @ me: you said: Maybe the interpreters are mute so they already know sign language

    If they were not able to speak how on earth could they interpret? Interpreting is a two way process.
    If the signer signed something, the interpreter would have to speak what was being signed to the person who does not sign, and vice versa.

    Sign languages are languages. PERIOD.

    International? Nope. There are many many different sign languages. To say that sign language should be universal would be to denigrate the status of sign languages as bona fide languages. How would you like it if someone said that spoken languages had to become the one universal spoken language.

  16. Melody D. -  October 3, 2011 - 2:55 pm

    Hi, i went my school so im deaf i cant hear anything, but i have 8 deaf friends and i have more can hear friends and so this learn sign language from different language :)

  17. bobtehnoob -  September 29, 2011 - 5:27 pm

    Im not so sure deaf awareness week is supposed to be “happy”…

    • Joshua -  April 20, 2015 - 3:37 pm

      It is most CERTAINLY happy. It isn’t about “preventing” deafness. It is about celebrating the accomplishments, the language, and the culture of the Deaf community. Just as Black History Month celebrates, so does Deaf Awareness month.
      It seems you could use some more “Deaf Awareness”

  18. Shaun G -  September 29, 2011 - 12:33 pm

    Makes a lot of sense

  19. Nina -  September 27, 2011 - 2:01 pm

    I love ASL and I am glad/happy that people are interested in it. At one time and still in many places people have shunned people who sign but it is really beautiful….I like the fact that you need not be of a particular culture but can sign the word GO and help another understand perfectly!

    I am hard of hearing so I appreciate the fact that I may one day go completley deaf. And if you think about it or someonen gives us some stats you’d know that if we ALL grow old enuf we WILL go blind and mostly DEAF so…you might as well learn to prepare for that fact or stay MUTE….I for one choose to continue to communicate! *It’s just my husband and ex-hubbies don’t wanna listen, ain’t it? LOL

  20. Micheal -  September 27, 2011 - 1:33 pm

    I’m just now reading this, but I think it is very intersting. I had no idea that ASL derived from French signing. I’m actually in a sign languge club and I think it’s awesome and not that hard. Everyone should try to learn it because you may meet someone that is deaf. This is a great article.

  21. Cecelia -  September 27, 2011 - 10:52 am

    meowul: pronunciation in ASL is there, absolutely. it’s just not with the tongue and the teeth, but with handshape, orientation, location, movement. it’s very easy for hearing learners to “mispronounce” a sign. in the same vein, ASL users have “accents” just as regional pronunciation variety occurs in spoken language.

  22. Cecelia -  September 27, 2011 - 10:40 am

    Edward: even though there are no filler words (by which i’ll assume you mean all articles found in the English language), please tell me how you would sign “the flower pot on the window sill up there on the 3rd floor fell and shattered on the hood on my car.” do you really think that if i got rid of “the, on, and” it would be fast and simple to interpret from Enligh over to ASL? oh no no. it wouldn’t.

  23. Ellen Hibbard -  September 27, 2011 - 7:01 am

    Great Blog! That’s right, we’re celebrating Deaf Awareness Week here in Toronto area too!

    Lots of good comments here.

    I’m stressing here: ASL is not 100% English or related to English.

    ASL is a spatial-visual language, it has a different modality than aural-spoken language like English. ASL is 4-D, meaning can be stacked on in vertical not just along a linear structure. Two different things can be expressed at the same time while in English, one can say one thing at one time.

    I politely disagree with the post

    Edward on September 23, 2011 at 8:52 pm
    You failed to mention anything about Glossing.

    Agent J: People can interpret so quickly because in ASL there are no filler words. Instead of “I am going to the restroom” they simply sign “ME GOTO RESTROOM”

    The concept of filter words is from English. There are other nuances and meaning in ASL that there is no translation into English as there is translation from English in to ASL. The verbs, to, be, the, it, etc are built into the ASL grammar. It’s not conveyed or shown the same way as English does because it’s a different language.

    Deaf people can learn how to read and right- it’s a good question. I am Deaf and I use the word Deaf in upper case because I identify myself as culturally Deaf. To me I learned how to read at first by pairing nouns with pictures that describe, then my mother spent some time working on verbs and how verbs change. I also learned about words that have multiple meanings for same word. That was more trickey for me as I read very literal and I still do sometimes.

    I am happy to see all the interest in ASL. Maybe you could help with getting more classes in elementary schools and high schools offering ASL and allowing Deaf people to take those classes. I wish schools in North America (both US and Canada) had ASL classes for Deaf kids to learn more about ASL grammar. And it would be good for hearing kids to take the class with the Deaf kids.

    • David Barban -  July 15, 2016 - 6:54 am

      Great blog! Ya, you are right American sign language is for Americans. I know it. I do not know English sign language for British. I learnt French sign language in France, and Israeli sign language here in Tel-Aviv. Obviously, I know the three spoken languages. I am a Special education teacher sinche 1984 (age 20). I am now volunteering with deaf people in Israel.

      I had seen on the internet, that, now, there isa “universl sign-language”, which I wanted to do in the early ’80′s, but nobody paid attention to me.

      I love sign-language. Now, in school, they teach it, but not good enough. Well, it is a start. Please answer. I wrote down my E-mail. Thanks,
      David Barban

  24. meagan williams -  September 27, 2011 - 6:51 am

    i did not know that at all. in fact some people think it is rather hard not me i think it is easy

  25. Shannyn -  September 26, 2011 - 5:40 pm

    Sign language is beautiful. I’m currently learning NZSL (New Zealand Sign Language), which differs quite a bit to ASL. NZSL is done with both hands. It is the most amazing thing, being able to communicate with someone that doesn’t know your language.

  26. Caleb -  September 26, 2011 - 1:22 pm

    I noticed that people assumed that ASL is international sign language. Actually, there is International Sign Language, but American Sign Language is its own language in America. As people spoke Spanish, Deaf people signed Spanish.

    Also, I noticed that some people said that ASL is related to the English. The truth is that the core of ASL itself is weakened through the years because Deaf children were forced to learn Signing Exact English, which was not really working well.

    Anyway, I just want to say it as a Deaf person who used to be a Signing Exact English user by the educational system, and now uses ASL fluently. In addition, it’s rare for a Deaf person who embraces ASL and English at the same time.

    By the way, I want to say one important notice to people who mentioned that it makes good money to know ASL. I want to make an important message: Do not view ASL as occupational opportunity. Otherwise, Deaf people will find it offensive and will decline your service as an interpreter. It’s because it’s our language and we had been dealing with a lot of oppression.

    Thanks, Dictionary.com, for sharing the information!

  27. david -  September 26, 2011 - 12:45 pm

    i know sign and love it. and it’s easy and fun to teach to my kids. i think that grade schools in america should teach ASL.

  28. Elly -  September 26, 2011 - 12:39 pm

    I adore ASL. : 3 I love that it isn’t standardized from country to country, and like spoken language, it is different everywhere. At places like Gallaudet University, you can even learn foreign sign languages.

    @Evil Coupons: Deaf people learn to read! Writing is one of the main forms of communication Deaf people have with the hearing world.

    @me: The interpreters could not be mute. If they were they couldn’t talk to the hearing people for which they were interpreting. > _ >’ I do think most mute people learn some form of sign language though, even if it is just fingerspelling.

  29. yo mama -  September 26, 2011 - 12:14 pm

    i wish iwas a fish
    also i wish i knew sign language

  30. meowoui -  September 26, 2011 - 11:23 am

    I decided to take ASL instead of a foreign language in college.
    ASL is a foreign language in itself but I do not need to learn how to
    pronounce the word correctly. I plan on going to the Deaf Nation Expo
    in October when the event comes to Portland Oregon.

  31. maryam -  September 26, 2011 - 10:55 am

    i have always wondered how to do sign language i just cant wrap my head around it

  32. demetrius wilkerson -  September 26, 2011 - 10:29 am

    i wish i knew sign language

  33. Sara -  September 26, 2011 - 10:28 am

    iloveeeee it ,.

  34. Ken -  September 26, 2011 - 9:28 am

    For anyone interested in learning more about ASL. Please read “When the Mind Hears” by Harlan Lane.

  35. mary dk -  September 26, 2011 - 9:25 am

    HOT Word today is ASL ~ all over the world ~ mostly countries borrow or add signs ASL to their home countries signs…wanna learn more details about ASL – check this out: @ASLized.org

  36. Diva -  September 26, 2011 - 9:16 am

    I think ASL is extraordinary!..its simply another way to communicate on a different level…..
    Communicating w/o words or audio HOW COOL IS THAT!!!!!!!!!
    The best practice is w/ some1 who is hearing impaired.
    While i am still a novice @ it, i take classes @ my church..

  37. Lola -  September 26, 2011 - 8:17 am

    I LOVE ASL. in class we cant ‘talk’ but no one ever said anything about signing! i have 4 deaf friends and when we hangout i can tell my signing gets better.Thanks dictionary.com for informing me even more!

  38. Keith -  September 26, 2011 - 7:55 am

    If ever a Hot Word blog warranted a “video blog,” this is it!

    I know some ASL from childhood curiosity and a reference book at my local library, but I always assumed that AMERICAN Sign Language was related to English. I never realized the grammar & syntax were different (seeing as how I learned from pictures and made my own, probably incorrect, sentences). I’d love to see video of how the same movement means different things based on posture, facial expression, etc.

  39. Skye -  September 26, 2011 - 7:25 am

    I have been interested in sign language for many years, and have been studying for school for about two and a half years. All of the deaf people I have met are very appreciative that I am willing to learn to communicate with them. They have been patient with me and have helped me learn new words. The deaf culture is absolutely amazing. In my community, a large group of deaf people will sometimes meet at a mall or other public place for dinner. It is very fun to meet new people and enjoy their conversation. These “silent dinners” and “deaf chats” are also a good chance to practice what I have learned.

  40. Ileana C. ;) -  September 26, 2011 - 7:23 am

    I think sign language is very interesting and fun, Much better then just regular talking. I’m going to need to learn all these signs today! :)

  41. ASLMORE | BLOGCHI@mayopia.com -  September 26, 2011 - 7:14 am

    [...] ‘ASLMore’ Sounds like a Song Title For a mind that’s somewhat Idle — and if there should be reaction — Sign Language would come into play. — That fickle finger of Fate. — So we Added ‘ASLMORE’ with lyrics, — Since Love and laughter are necessary Wit — Da Moon and Da PizzaPie Dat we Ate. — With all due respect for the many ways That Human Beans Endure and Communicate — Except for Politicians where the Love is Fear and Hate.  –  We are all in this together — though it seems Some are waiting for some others Signed — Gallaudet is in DC NE. — Perhaps they should speak to the Hard of Hearing Congress Beast, — before the Congress goes Completely Blind. –>>L.T.Rhyme This entry was posted in DEMOCRAZY, DICTCOMHOTWORD, L.T.Rhyme and tagged De Nile, Democracy, LT, LTRhyme, the HOT WORD by admin. Bookmark the permalink. [...]

  42. Bethany Rotering -  September 26, 2011 - 7:10 am

    I like to talk to people that can’t hear because I like to do sign language.

  43. Courtenay -  September 26, 2011 - 6:28 am

    Out of all the many sign languages from different countries, I don’t think anyone has yet mentioned Auslan – Australian Sign Language… it can be studied up to Year 12 (completion of high school) level here just like any spoken language, if you go to a school that teaches it.

  44. Nur -  September 26, 2011 - 6:18 am

    i know how 2 do sign language. Expert. i am not deaf but i know. sign language is very cool 2 me agreeable right. although i am just 11 i like 2 discover languages. =P =)

  45. makhdoom rafique -  September 26, 2011 - 6:07 am

    My sweet heart lives in opposite block, and I always use sign language for communication. This is an easy way for communication. Peoples living around usually treat us deaf, and enjoy our sign language.

  46. Venus -  September 26, 2011 - 5:49 am

    wow..it is so amazing…this sign language can be use on exam and every student will be cheating..

  47. Molly -  September 26, 2011 - 4:24 am

    Indeed ASL isn’t related to English. However there is SEE (Sign Exact English), which does as the name suggests: Sign English Exactly.

  48. McKenzie -  September 26, 2011 - 12:03 am

    Signed English is not a recognised language. American Sign Language is. More people use ASL in America than Signed English, so I hope that’s not confusing.
    I’m learning Auslan (Australian Sign Language) so I can be an interpreter, teacher, counsellor and friend to the Deaf community. They are such beautiful, diverse and inspiring people.

  49. Dennis Lee -  September 25, 2011 - 11:28 pm

    From the article: “British sign language is very different than ASL.”

    You do mean “… is very different from ASL” don’t you?

    I expect better from dictionary.com


  50. Dani -  September 25, 2011 - 8:07 pm

    I’m an ASL Student and a lover of the language and the people who use it! Just a little bit of info I’d like to share in addition to this: did you know that ASL is actually one of the hardest languages for English speakers to learn? that’s right! It’s right along side Korean, Japanese and Chinese.

    I love this article! More articles like this need to be written and shared to raise awareness, understanding and tolerance! Wonderful job! :)

  51. Tessa Delos Santos -  September 25, 2011 - 6:59 pm

    American Sign Language itself may not be an international language, but in the Deaf Community they use general gestures to communicate with other deaf people from different countries.

  52. quryon -  September 25, 2011 - 6:02 pm

    wow i like using sign language it helps me since i am deaf. somebody else typed this for me

  53. EvilCoupons -  September 25, 2011 - 6:01 pm

    huh…. what a coincidence, I was just thinking about how blind people read braille and I was wondering how deaf people read when they were never taught how to?

  54. Lulu -  September 25, 2011 - 5:59 pm

    ok, but how does the sign language itself relates to france? I though this was going to explain why the “s” is a closed fist or why the “g” is a pointing index finger….tsk tsk tricked by the title.

  55. Al A. Britto -  September 25, 2011 - 5:23 pm

    Sign languages are specific of each deaf community. In Brazil, we have the Brazilian Sign language (Libras) that, as the French SL (wich originated ASL) and the British one, differs from ASL. Just as there are many spoken languages in the world, with sign languages occurs the same thing. They are diverse and fascinating as an object of scientific inquiry.

  56. Lily -  September 25, 2011 - 2:29 pm

    I know sign language because both of my parents are deaf and i am hearing, so therefor, i am a CODA (Child of Deaf Adult) I learned ASL before i could even speak english. It really is an amazing language.

  57. DeafMEngineer -  September 25, 2011 - 2:05 pm

    American Sign Language have its own written language, believe it or not. It was distributed in 2009 so it’s relatively new but it has taken on an amazing path in changing society’s perspective on ASL. Check this out: http://www.si5s.com for more information. Enjoy!

  58. Lawman -  September 25, 2011 - 8:59 am

    Tough job to learn things jst by signs,but then thanks to it as this is one of the most effective means we have to interact with our challenged friends,unless they say”I understand & can see every things in ur eyes”

  59. Brian Riley -  September 25, 2011 - 8:54 am

    To RJ: You claim that late-deafened people make up 70% of the “deaf population”. Where did you get that statistic? What do you mean by the term “deaf population”? Who does that group include? Is it an actual group in society, or just an artificial statistical construct?

  60. Brian Riley -  September 25, 2011 - 8:46 am

    Here is Stokoe’s original 1960 paper: http://saveourdeafschools.org/stokoe_1960.pdf This Hotword article is good, but it gives a link to a reprint of Stokoe’s paper, not the original. The reprint (in the JDSDE) contains errors, for example, saying “territory”in one sentence when Stokoe actually wrote “tertiary”.

  61. Mark -  September 25, 2011 - 6:24 am

    Regarding the use of grammar, SE (signed English) is basically ASL but word for word, Dick ran to the school. ASL eliminated the concept of unimportant words such as “to” “the” “be” “of” simply because it takes too long.

    ASL is more of a picture story so it helps if you think of the object first. ie. School, Dick ran. I was born Profoundly Deaf and in some circles, I am classified as “oral deaf” which can be mistakenly construed as “hard of hearing”. While I went mainstream, I did have the unique opportunity of having a special ed. teacher for the deaf who would interpret my regular classes and then review with me in a one-on-one situation to ensure I stayed up to par. As a result, she used SE to help me keep my English grammar correct. When I went to college, the first reaction I would get from other deaf student was “whoa, signed English” but more accurately, “pidgen English” which is a combination of SE and ASL, signing in English grammar using ASL signs.

    For example, the SE sign for “see” is different than the ASL sign for “see”. SE basically uses letters to “start” the picture so see would begin with the letter S whereas ASL does not use the letter S, but rather the number 2 sign. Both share the same motions, just different handshapes.

    For those who really want to understand the linguistics of American sign, check out the expensive but well worth it book Linguistics of American Sign Language which was written by a professor at Gallaudet University. It is the authoritative book on the subject of ASL, not your basic ASL 1 and 2. Your teacher ability to sign will improve temendously after that. I do not know why they do not include this book in either courses at school.

    In any case, it was not hard to transition from SE to ASL, but it was more difficult to ignore the English grammar so I became more pidgen ASL, using ASL in English grammar without the “to” “be” junk.

    The reason why we eliminated this was because in order to translate English into ASL or ASL into English, we needed to speed up the translation process because translation is really verbal. Anyone can write in English at the same speed. But verbal language is faster.

    Think about how long it would take to spell every damn letter in the sentence, “Why did the dog think like a cat in order to be a duck?” Verbally, you can say that very quickly but in translation, it takes forever. So excuse my loose translation here but if you take out the junk words, Why dog think like cat order be duck? then you shave a lot of time and get a faster response.

  62. catherine -  September 25, 2011 - 5:57 am

    I had a friend in third grade, which was nearly 50 years ago, and she was such a joyful person. She was also deaf and I felt sorry for her because everyone was afraid of her. She looked so different with that big box strapped to her chest and the wires running from her ears. Julie was very brave and I loved playing with her. Because of her I read Helen Keller’s life story and learned fingerspelling from the back of the book. My interest in sign language remained strong all my life and I have taken courses several times over the years but have not finished my education. Until now, I am currently enrolled in college and am working toward an associate of applied science degree majoring in american sign language interpreter program. I want to be certified and work as a medical interpreter. I am an EMT and midwife and want to combine all of these things for helping the deaf community in the name of my dear little friend Julie from third grade. Everyone should have some basic knowledge in ASL and children especially should have sign in preschool. The ones I know who have taken it loved it and took to it very quickly. Happy Deaf Awareness Week!!

  63. Tensai -  September 25, 2011 - 12:03 am

    @Justin you are seriously mistaken if you think that ASL -the movement of hands and facial gestures -is related to English. English comes from the Germanic Branch of the language family tree and is a Subject Verb Object SOV language. ASL is not. If there is not an ASL sign for an English word they might spell that word out with their fingers thus incorporating an English word into ASL however English incorporates many foreign words into its vocabulary as well such as the Japanese word “sushi” however English is in no way related to Japanese.

  64. Agent51 -  September 24, 2011 - 9:49 pm

    I luv sign language

  65. Pang Chin Chao -  September 24, 2011 - 7:52 pm

    Nice sign makes wanna learn it by today!

  66. interpreter in training -  September 24, 2011 - 4:56 pm

    This article hits the nail on the head! Learning ASL can be fun and quite interesting. I’m learning how to interpret which is very difficult! Think about it, with spoken language interpretation, say Spanish, you must wait for the person to finish their thought, then you can translate it into English. Otherwise you have two people speaking at the same time and no one will hear either of them. Since your interpreting from a manual language to a spoken language normally its a simultaneous process.The interpreter signs what someone voices while they are speaking which means the interpreter must continue to listen to what is said while they form sentences in ASL structure and produce the message on their hands. Or they must continue to watch what a signer is saying and voice sentences in English at the same time. This is called simultaneous interpreting.
    Like the article said there are many types of sign language as there are many spoken languages. An international sign language is in the works but not agreed upon by everyone. Same goes for international spoken language every one wants to use their own vocabulary and grammar. Although some signs are universal (or close to it) because they are iconic motions ex: “smile”, [here is a link to see what I mean: http://www.aslpro.com/cgi-bin/aslpro/aslpro.cgi ]

  67. Liz -  September 24, 2011 - 4:12 pm


    Sign language is already international! There is British, Russian, French, Chinese, Japanese, German and many more forms of sign, each one of them different! As far as not understand how people can become interpreters, it takes A LOT of practice and many years of speaking sign to be able to interpret at the speed needed. It is possible, however! :)

  68. Bernita -  September 24, 2011 - 3:55 pm

    It it really ignorant to say it could be an international language..There is no higher chance of that happening than there being an international spoken language. I’m an interpreter by the way. Anyone can do it with hard work, determination, and proper training.

  69. matSeattle -  September 24, 2011 - 3:53 pm

    No wonder!! Hearing did always think the person know it is the same grammar with foreign as Universal language are not the same sign language. it is misinformation..
    Due to informative were not accurate message from other people believe that.
    ASL, Aussie Sign Language , Brasil and Kenya Sign Language and France Sign Language ARE big difference.

    By the way, Please do not assume it is the same language in the WORLD.. Sad , it is wrong informative message!


  70. SHONDA -  September 24, 2011 - 3:03 pm

    Very interesting to see sign language as the hot word today! I am currently studying Deaf Communications and there has been so much cultural shock to me, esp learning the difference between English, ASL, and even PSE sign. Learning about the Deaf culture has been very informative. Yeah Happy Deaf Awareness Week to you too Agent J!!!

  71. kewlkiwi -  September 24, 2011 - 2:43 pm

    Agent J said: “One day I think that it could be an international language”

    I doubt it, since many countries have their own sign language – so why should the USA version become ‘THE’ international version?

    New Zealand SL (the third official language of the country BTW) is different from Australian Sl, which is different from the English SL, which is different from…

    There are a few translators around, people who have learnt more than one Sl, who do help when they can.

  72. hannah -  September 24, 2011 - 2:29 pm

    the only thing i can say in ASL is you lazy butterdish

  73. Andrew -  September 24, 2011 - 2:17 pm

    This is great! I took an ASL course last year, and was inspired by it enough to also take a course in French Sign Language (LSF) when I studied abroad in France last spring! I hope that one day I’ll become fluent enough to become an interpreter. Thanks for this post, and happy Deaf Awareness Week!

  74. Lyssa -  September 24, 2011 - 1:47 pm

    I have had an interest in sign language since I was a kid. I learned the alphabet then but not much more. I’m in my mid-twenties now and have been learning from friends for a around a year, one of which is an older woman who is deaf. My hearing friends who know sign and I interpret Christian meetings for our deaf friend. It is a difficult thing to do and nerve-wracking. The only way I make it through is good preparation and the support of God’s holy spirit.
    I enjoy watching the bible in ASL. The accounts have more of an emotional effect on me because of the sign language. It has even helped me come to a better understanding of many concepts because sign language doesn’t have all of the superfluous words that English does. It’s so straight-forward :D

  75. bholland -  September 24, 2011 - 1:37 pm

    I’ve always thought of ASL as a formalization of body language, a natual sign language. I have a great interest in ASL because, the way my hearing is going, I may have need of it in the not too far distant future.

  76. Pinki -  September 24, 2011 - 1:04 pm

    Dictionary.com articles are unique every single week, yet so educational (of course, dictionaries relate to education). Thanks for this interesting info, Dictionary!

  77. Dan the Man -  September 24, 2011 - 12:49 pm

    @ Agent J: I don’t see how it could one day be an international language, considering that Sign Language differs greatly between countries.

  78. Jay -  September 24, 2011 - 12:40 pm

    I’m an ASL interpreting student, and this makes me so happy! There are so many misconceptions about ASL out there! Happy Deaf Awareness week!

  79. shaun -  September 24, 2011 - 12:24 pm

    Agent J – there are already have international sign language. Each counties have their own sign language such as LSF signs in France, BSL used in UK and America have ASL. you can go to google and look it up!

    I am 100% deaf and proud of it. And sign language is one of most beautiful language ever.

  80. matSeattle -  September 24, 2011 - 12:19 pm

    Not the best to use S.E.E is not popular !! Sign English Exact is no longer popular in American.


  81. matSeattle -  September 24, 2011 - 12:15 pm

    it is not that hard.. I grew up since age 4 I just learned to use ASL… Now if you are very young people as you want to learn to be ASL interpreter. We NEED ASL interpreter for court, doctor appointment or before surgery. They cannot understand deaf people cannot written a english. it is not the same as we learn.. Somewhat I learn and complete understand ASL language.

    We are lack of interpreter. HELP and encourage young student in High School to encourage hearing kids can socialized with deaf student with learn ASL, etc. before you go to college to take ASL classes. Today WE need ASL interpreter .. 36 millions hard of hearing and Deaf lives in American ,…We only know 16 thousand Certification ASL interpreters for Court, lawyer, Deaf Service and Became teacher to teach deaf student need deaf teachers.

    Perfect idea! .. Dont sit and think ASL is weird.. No grammar??? Get busy to learn ASL with your heart to deaf community need interpreter is not mean translate.. Voice is silent! Hand is quiet? Get it ?

    Don’t need whisper back your guest who is deaf .. You can talk normally.. Don’t shout at deaf person.. Deaf and Hard of hearing grew up different with hearing family. it is pretty uninformative for older people’s background are so different without ASL language and wrong picture


  82. Kathy L -  September 24, 2011 - 11:29 am

    I am hearing and learned sign because of a deaf dorm sister, and a Professor Ms. Sarah E. Bonderant at Roanoke Bible College in Elizabeth City, NC. She set up a asl class that very quickly grew into several. That was 36 years ago now. I use sign everyday still in some form. My sister & brother have learned asl. My children, scouts, coworkers, and members of church have learned asl. If any on has the opportunity to learn and will use it daily for the rest of your life weather speaking to deaf or not then Learn as much as you can. One day you will have a chance to learn from some of the nicest people I know as my deaf friends. I taught many children finger spelling and this helped them to learn to spell everything so much better.

  83. bobby alfredo jr -  September 24, 2011 - 11:25 am

    thaaaaattttsssss niiiiiiccccccceeee

  84. Lucus -  September 24, 2011 - 11:16 am

    Fascinating, the plasticity of the brain.

  85. Poets Reach -  September 24, 2011 - 11:04 am

    The history of Deaf Culture is awesome.
    @ Agent J
    Interpreters can translate so fast because they have mastered “code switching” witch is vary difficult; it is the same skill that allows people to interpret one spoken language into another. For example English into Spanish.
    There are many different forms of sign language, just like there are many forms of spoken language, so I doubt that it could ever become a single international language that everyone understands. After all how would you chews witch sing language!

  86. Mares -  September 24, 2011 - 10:58 am

    I have taken a few sign classes in college. I am looking into becoming a certified sign language interpreter. Currently I work as a special education teacher and use basic sign in teaching my students with autism. Because most people with autism spectrum disorders are very visual learners ASL provides a vital visual reference for them and helps them tell us about their wants and needs. So, thanks to ASL deaf people and other people with disabilities like autism we have a great tool to help our students learn communication skills.

  87. reny -  September 24, 2011 - 10:50 am

    I am not deaf but i think sign language is so cool and i know how to use it as well, but not that fast!

  88. Richard Haven -  September 24, 2011 - 10:07 am

    Agent J: There are hundreds of sign languages.

    Like an Esparanto, Gestuno is an international sign language. Check out Wikipedia for more information and links.


  89. Tristyn -  September 24, 2011 - 9:25 am

    My mom is Deaf and has been her whole life. I have been signing since I was 4 months old, ASL was my first language, not English. 23 years later, signing with my mom or watching other people sign, is still SO beautiful to me. It’s a WONDERFUL language to learn and I highly encourage you to do so if you are interested. It isnt easy, but once you get the hang of it, it is a piece of cake. HAPPY DEAF AWARENESS WEEK!!

  90. Liza with a Z -  September 24, 2011 - 8:56 am

    I’m glad ASL is now included and offered in the language requirements of some colleges. It’s facinating to learn but for a syntax geek like me, it can be frustrating. Instead of saying, “My name is Liza. It’s nice to meet you” you sign “My name Liza. Nice meet you.” Helping verbs and some pronouns are ommitted. Still very cool to learn the meaning behind the signs.

  91. savanah thomas -  September 24, 2011 - 8:46 am


  92. nessa -  September 24, 2011 - 8:29 am

    to:Agent J
    ASL is called American Sign Language because it is used in America. French sign language is used in France, every country has its own sign language corresponding to its own language and words. so technically it already is international.

  93. RJ -  September 24, 2011 - 8:17 am

    ASL is primarily used by people who were born deaf or went deaf at a very young age. Those who went deaf later in life, like myself, primarily use Signed English which uses signs but in English word order. We late-deafened, as we are called make up about 70% of the present deaf population.

    ASL, like Chinese, has many variations from one region to another; one size does not fit all.

  94. Nichole -  September 24, 2011 - 8:04 am

    I took ASL for two and a half years (had to stop because I moved) and it was amazing. It’s so fun and expressive and kind of amazing. I intend to try and become an interpreter.

  95. Leanna -  September 24, 2011 - 7:39 am

    I am deaf myself, and I do agree!
    Before I became deaf in an accident at about 13, I wasn’t aware of how different it was!
    Now, that I hardly can imagine myself hearing anymore, I know ASL, a tiny morsel of my brain remembers how different it is!

  96. Tony D -  September 24, 2011 - 7:25 am

    The real beauty in ASL is how amazingly adaptive mankind is . . . we see a need and fill it.

  97. Ellie -  September 24, 2011 - 7:17 am

    Sign language is so neat!! It’s like learning another language, such as my “shorthand”, Latin, Italian and English. Took a course and loved it, but if you don’t use it, you lose it!!

  98. amsd -  September 24, 2011 - 6:41 am

    Many states now allow by law for ASL to be taught for credit as a “second langugage”. There are hearing people who grew up or are growing up within Deaf households (called CODAs — Children of Deaf Adults) whose first lanugage is ASL; these children learn spoken language outside the home as a second language and many of them become Sign Language Interpreters. This does not mean you have to be a CODA to be skilled enough to become a Sign Language Interpreter. There are universities and colleges in addition to online resources for learning ASL. Try http://www.asluniversity.com or http://www.aslpro.com for example. Sign Language Interpreters function as a means for smooth communication between those who use sign language and those who use spoken words, follow a strict code of ethics, and usually are certified (by way of written and video recorded tests evaluated through a panel of experts) via the state in which they work.

  99. Coach Sweetman -  September 24, 2011 - 6:25 am

    There was a study showing that multilanguaged children had far less mental problems than single languanged children. When they expanded the study it turned out that non-deaf children who are fluent in sign language were at the bottom of the list for mental problems – almost none.

    That alone is a good case for teaching ASL to children – as an additional form of expression.

  100. me -  September 24, 2011 - 6:20 am

    Maybe the interpreters are mute so they already know sign language

  101. saturday -  September 24, 2011 - 5:46 am


  102. gerbilmama -  September 24, 2011 - 4:55 am

    Wow! This has to be one of the most informative and interesting blogs I have read on this site. I practice my signing while driving by signing the info on license plates.

  103. Shane -  September 24, 2011 - 4:06 am

    wow!!! i really would like to learn the sign language…

  104. NomNom -  September 24, 2011 - 4:03 am

    pretty cool if u asked me

  105. James -  September 24, 2011 - 3:24 am

    The question at the end is superfluous. If I did wonder how it works, it doesn’t offer any answers, and seems to be discussing something that is not related to the story. That’s annoying.

  106. Karin West -  September 24, 2011 - 12:54 am

    Agent J,
    The article actually is about sign language not being an international language.

  107. Irma -  September 24, 2011 - 12:40 am

    I grew up with a father who became deaf as a result of his work. We communicated just fine but we never used sl letter, just gestures and hand signals. My father was very aware that he couln’t hear and embraised his situation.
    But now I have a husband who has become deaf but he is the most backward man, an sorry but I see it all the time if I’m present when people are talking to him I have to tell him tell them you cann’t hear to speak a little louder for you. Or I tell them myself that he cann’t hear very well so speak lauder for him. He seem to be ashame that he can hear and that is very dumm on his part.

  108. SHiRL -  September 23, 2011 - 11:22 pm

    “Sign languages” ARE international!! MANY countries have their own sign language. “American Sign Language” is not the only language … it is the dominant language of the Deaf in the U.S. It is not even AMERICAN sign language. ASL is not dominant in Mexico. Nor is it dominant in South America. North America (ie, Canada & the U.S.) use ASL. In geography we learn(ed) “America” includes North (U.S. & Canada), Central, and South. NOT just the U.S.! Just as U.S. English is the dominant language of the U.S. (think that will change by the end of this decade??), it is not the only language in the world. ASL was #2 in the U.S. Now Spanish is #2.

  109. Kaytlyn -  September 23, 2011 - 10:58 pm

    Oh, and Agent J
    It’s because by the time they get their interpreter certificate, they’ve had so much sign, that it’s second nature to them. Even though I’ve only been taking class for a month, I try to use as much sign while I talk so I won’t have to think about which sign to use.

  110. Kaytlyn -  September 23, 2011 - 10:54 pm

    I’m studying Deaf Education and we’ve just gone over the history of deaf education from it’s beginning in Europe through America’s deaf education history. It’s amazing how different ASL is – most people use what’s called Signed English (not true ASL and resembles English more than ASL). Thank you for spreading the word about Deaf Education!!

  111. l. -  September 23, 2011 - 10:54 pm

    very interesting. i am gonna look up a new word, glyph.

  112. tejal -  September 23, 2011 - 10:43 pm

    I’d love to learn sign language myself…It may take lots of practice and lots of patience…but I’m sure I’ll do my best…sign language is a medium to reach out..

  113. crabby -  September 23, 2011 - 10:04 pm

    very interesting sign language as i have learnt few signs which were similar to alphabets like we write them and facial expressions are too important for expressing things.

  114. Jordan -  September 23, 2011 - 10:01 pm

    Agent J, Think about having a conversation with someone. We can comprehend words spoken to us at a certain speed because we are used to the language. That is exactly how deaf people can communicate. It is their language and they have grown up with it and they know how to read it. They don’t have to think about it just as we don’t have to pause at each word spoken to us.

    Another example, when you read you don’t have to focus on each letter that forms a word. Because of the experience that you have, you can skim over it knowing the word. You know what it looks like it and, again, you don’t have to think about it.

    But yes, if you don’t have a backgound in ASL, or even if you are a new student of it, it can be tremendously challenging to try to figure out what is said. To make the challenge harder, it is culturally improper to stare at a person’s hands while they are signing while you are having a conversation, you are supposed to look at their face (for many reasons including the fact that hands aren’t the only means of communication). So not only are you trying to keep up with what is being signed you can’t even make it your full focus.

    But ASL is an awesome and unique language. May your curiosity be rewarded.

  115. E. -  September 23, 2011 - 9:52 pm

    Agent J – there are many, many different sign languages throughout the world, so I doubt the sign language of America and Canada would ever become an international language any more than any spoken language. As noted above, the sign language of England, for example, is signed so differently than ASL, the two are like speaking Russian and Swahili at each other – utterly unrelated!

  116. Jason L -  September 23, 2011 - 9:09 pm

    I heard on the radio yesterday about a TV show in sign language called Dr. Wonders Workshop and one called Fingerfood Cafe. They had a website- silent blessings.

  117. Devine -  September 23, 2011 - 9:07 pm

    Yes it’s interesting to know how a language that has been criticize for many years now is recognized as a real language. I have deaf friends and they truly want the hearing world to know that their language is unique. You may not understand how it works unless you take the time to learn not only the language, but deaf culture as well. ASL is a beautiful language, and I’m glad that I have the opportunity to learn more about their language and culture. Try it, you will love it!!!

  118. Edward -  September 23, 2011 - 8:52 pm

    You failed to mention anything about Glossing.

    Agent J: People can interpret so quickly because in ASL there are no filler words. Instead of “I am going to the restroom” they simply sign “ME GOTO RESTROOM”

    Its like learning a second language, once you learn ASL everything seems so fluid just like any vocal language.

    To anyone interested, you should look up people interpreting songs into ASL it is beautiful and will give you a whole new look at the deaf community.

  119. Cabana -  September 23, 2011 - 8:42 pm

    I am currently an American Sign Language student and I absolutely love it. It truly is a language all of its own and just like the article said, it differs from other types of sign language. BSL (British Sign Language) and ASL look completely different. Another aspect of it is Deaf culture. I don’t think many hearing people know or come to respect the fact that they have their own customs, traditions, jokes, folklore, etc. Its really interesting. =)

  120. vanessa -  September 23, 2011 - 8:13 pm

    wow! That’s really cool!! alot of my friends are takeing A.S.L niceee xD HAHA

  121. 0hours -  September 23, 2011 - 7:54 pm

    I took an Asl class once and i found it very difficult to get the syntax correct. probably because I didn’t actually know any deaf people. Long story on why I ended up in the class in the first place. I always ended up reverting to what the teacher called “signed English”

  122. Kat -  September 23, 2011 - 7:50 pm

    @Agent J: Sign Language is actually different in different parts of the world. French Sign Language is different from American Sign Language which is different even from English Sign Language… so the likelihood of it becoming an international language any time soon is low.

    I upkeep the blog for my university’s American Sign Language club and have been learning signs since I was 2, but only actively for the past 3 years. As a student of language (German and Arabic), I find ASL fascinating. I hope to learn more of it over the years and perhaps one day put it to use in some fashion.

  123. Judi -  September 23, 2011 - 7:37 pm

    Extremely informative article. Thank you for your efforts in helping me learn interesting information.

  124. Archon -  September 23, 2011 - 7:32 pm

    British sign language is very different FROM ASL.

  125. jk jk -  September 23, 2011 - 6:54 pm

    Agent J: I think it SHOULD be an international language. It is a great idea.

  126. Stacy -  September 23, 2011 - 6:38 pm

    It will never be a universal language for the same reason that English or any other language will not. Deaf people in Guam are not going to use the same language as Deaf people in Canada.

  127. Green -  September 23, 2011 - 6:12 pm

    Thank you for your article. I am an ASL college student, I plan to be an interpreter. There are at least 50 sign languages all over the world. Wherever there are Deaf people, language is created. There is also an international sign language, but just like Esperanto, it’s not caught on worldwide. There is poetry, theatre and literature done in ASL just like there is in every other language. The speed and grace with ASL is something that comes with time and practice, just like with any other language.

  128. Echosin -  September 23, 2011 - 5:36 pm

    Sign language is cool, and you would look like a nerd if you do it at school.
    Nerdy girls are hot.

    If you wanna learn sign language, just memorize the hand motions.
    Very helpful.

    By the way, you spelled weird wierd wrong.

  129. Laina Barrett -  September 23, 2011 - 5:35 pm

    Thank you for this information….I need to learn, but of course most I need to communicate with are NOT deaf or HOH, and therefore do not know ASL
    Thank you to Mr. Gallaudet…and to M. Clerc. And thanks to those who recognize how important this is to so many.

  130. Justin -  September 23, 2011 - 5:31 pm

    I’m currently in Sign Language 2. Although I agree it isn’t 100% English, people can’t deny that they are related. Now, with that being said, someone who knew the signs, but didn’t know the grammar of ASL might be a little confused, but they could still catch on.

    I realize that I’m not making very good points, but I’m hoping that I’m not alone in saying that ASL is related to English? (Note, I realize that every language can be “related” to English, I just think ASL more so then others. I do though think that ASL should be considered its own language).

  131. Sarah H -  September 23, 2011 - 5:07 pm

    Every country has their own sign language, and even within a country there is variance in the signs used. There is French Sign, German sign, Spanish Sign, and they’re all different, including their alphabet signs. Even in America, where ASL is mostly used there are signs people use in the north that aren’t used in the south. For example, the sign usually used in the south for COKE/COCA-COLA/SODA/COCAINE in the south looks like you are shooting yourself in the arm with a needle, but the northern sign (which I prefer) for soda translates to SODA POP and looks a lot less like you are using drugs. lol

  132. coleen -  September 23, 2011 - 4:56 pm

    To agent J:
    ASL is International in all countries but a few (Germany, and one or two others’ can’t remember, sorry been a long time since I took ASLI Class). It is Amazing and I think people should learn the basic a’b'c’s and you will be amazed how happy that most are that you as a hearing are trying to communicate with them!!! ASLI people do make good money!!!

  133. hannah -  September 23, 2011 - 4:53 pm

    cool but i do not know it well

  134. Kim -  September 23, 2011 - 4:48 pm

    I love sign language it my most important language thank you dictionary.com for the information you published :)

  135. Mwani -  September 23, 2011 - 4:46 pm

    Wow I never knew this. The other day at my school I noticed a bunch of kids using sign language and I thought it was really interesting. I wonder if they feel isolated at all from people around them…it makes me want to learn. I feel like they should teach us all some basic sign language in school.

  136. llse -  September 23, 2011 - 4:33 pm


  137. Agent J -  September 23, 2011 - 4:20 pm

    I don’t understand how people can be sign language interpreters. They interpret so fast, I don’t understand how. I’m not deaf, but in one of my classes there are deaf people, and they have an interpreter. Sign language seems amazing. One day I think that it could be an international language.

  138. Agent J -  September 23, 2011 - 4:16 pm

    That is so wierd! Me and my peeps were talking about sign language today… Happy Deaf Awareness Week!


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