Radio Inspire

How To Learn Sign Language

ASL Grammar and the Deaf Community


You don’t sign ASL? Unacceptable. Hello, I’m Rogan and welcome. Today I want
to discuss grammar in the deaf community. This topic came up because I
got an email through my website. I will be reading it, but I won’t be following the
exact words of the email. Just the main point. I’m a beginner ASL student. When I watch your videos, it seems to me that
your signing typically follows English grammar. But I keep getting told again and again in
class that Deaf people will expect me to use “proper ASL grammar” to communicate with them. I looked through your videos and it seems
like you’ve never addressed this before, so I was wondering if you might talk about
grammar within the Deaf community, how it might change from one person to the next, whether this is influenced perhaps by people
like you who are heavy readers of written English. In general how this affects communication
when two people chat in ASL. Away from the academic environment, everyday
situations where we’re expected to follow textbooks. I’m wondering what the actual opinions of people are. Great question! Yes, you can see from watching
any of my videos that I’m very English-influenced. A big part of that is that I grew up
signing SEE, Signing Exact English. I transferred to mainstream school, started picking
up more ASL. Went to college, picked up more ASL. Since then… I do try sign more, a little bit more ASL
than I normally do. But I’m still very English, yes. Signing grammar is SO varied in the deaf
community. There’s no… Standard ASL. Honestly, NO deaf person signs
“pure and perfect” ASL. None. You may see someone that’s very strong ASL,
right. But what people call “true” ASL… No one signs that…all the time. No one. Part of that is because most of us have strong
influences from English, spoken English. From our role models for sign, who tend to be
hearing interpreters. Hearing teachers who sign. Hearing parents. Most of their signs, it might be actual ASL. But it’s usually strongly influenced by English,
because their first language is English. If you go to any deaf event, and take a look around… Many of them don’t sign in
strong ASL. So when teachers– It BOTHERS me when teachers in a classroom
tell students they must use proper and perfect ASL grammar when they talk with a deaf person.
Must, must, must. No one really cares. Honestly! My friends… I don’t know any of them that
are serious about having to have perfect ASL. Often, I look at a new student that’s
learning sign and is awkward. My response is okay. I don’t really care about your
grammar. I just–the important thing is communication. That’s all. Communication.
That’s the most important thing to us. And! It’s important that you are trying. You’re learning. That’s a big step. That’s more
than what most people do. Most people say, “Oh I would love to learn ASL,
la la la.” But never actually follow through. You’re actually taking an ASL class. That’s
more important to us than your grammar. I’m going to add something, with clear emphasis. This is MY opinion, and what I know many people
I’m friends with, many people I know (think). I don’t speak for everyone. I definitely
do not say the opinion of everyone. I know there are deaf people who are… On the
extreme end, pound the table, DEAF, Deaf power. You don’t sign ASL? Unacceptable. Yes. There are people like that.
But those people are really a minority. Don’t listen to them. Most of us really
don’t care. You can communicate? Great. I have to add that it *really* depends
on the person you’re talking with. For me and my friends, most of us can adjust to
more English or more ASL, we can move around. So we’re comfortable with whatever. But… There are some people who are very ASL, they grew
up with little English, limited language knowledge, maybe their family doesn’t sign, whatever the reason. Those people may struggle to actually
understand more English-based signs. But really, we’re used to accommodating
and crossing communication barriers. So I don’t think… Yes, it’s important to try and be more
ASL-based, but is it a *must*? I don’t think so. I may be repeating myself a lot, but the point is
I don’t think it’s *that* important. That’s my opinion. Let me know what your opinion is in the
comments below. Agree? Disagree? Why? Ah! Seriously, keep it civil. Be nice.
Don’t hate on other people. Don’t do that. If you want to support my content financially, I have
Patreon, which is monthly, and ko-fi, which is one-time. Subscribe to this channel. Follow me on all
my socials – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. Thanks for watching, see you next time.

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