Does Sign Language Change Over Time? ⎮ ASL Stew
October 25, 2019
[JI] Hello, I’m Jill…
[JE] …and I’m Jenna. [JI] This is ASL Stew! ♪♪♪ [JE] Okay, so today we’re talking about does sign language change over time, or is it static? A lot of people either ask, “why are there different signs?”, or complain “why do signs vary?”. So we thought we’d go ahead and discuss this topic today. [JI] Some of the reason that there’s variation in sign language is due to regional accents. Some people just sign differently. However, another reason there is variation in sign language is because sign language adapts just like any other language. It’s the same as spoken language. So some signs are older and some are more recent. So you will notice change over time and we’ll give you some examples. One example is “help”. In older generations, they tended to sign this for help. Now recently, it’s signed this way. It’s more concise. You don’t actually have to touch your elbows. You just sign help. Sometimes technology can have an influence on how sign language changes. For example, phone. In the olden days, it was signed this way because you had an old rotary phone like that. Now we sign it this way and even sometimes this way due to cell phones. A lot of times phone is signed this way. So things change over time depending on the technology and will adapt as well. So sign language is the same as spoken language or really ANY language. It changes over time. Older generations may use certain words or grammar. Kind of like in old England, way back when. We don’t speak that way anymore.
[JI] Shakespeare [JE] Right like Shakespearean. We don’t speak that way at all. Of course not! It’s the same with sign language. It’s very different back then as to what it is now. Each generations it changes. A little bit of change over time. That’s normal. It’s a natural process of life. Things change over time and there’s nothing right or wrong about it. You can see variations and think maybe something is an older sign and maybe something is newer. Just be aware of it is all. [JI] Right, it’s the same as things change over time because they add in new slang words. Even for the two of us, who are in our 30s, you know 30, 31, even our signing style is maybe different than younger people and their signing style. We look at them and say “what does that mean?”, “what is that?”. Because people make up cool new signs to match new words or new concepts. Things they didn’t have before. Maybe sign language changes over time meaning it’s adapting to better representations of concepts. So, for example in the past they had philosophy. Now many people sign philosophy, at least that I know. Maybe culture. Before it was signed this way with a “C”. Which is some sort of a representation, but now they sign culture this way, which is different. It’s a better representation of what it means. So things are always changing. Deaf people are always trying to make up better representations of their language. So that’s another reason things change over time. Just like any other language and I think that’s pretty cool. You’re always learning. You never stop learning. [JE] So it’s just important if you’re learning sign language or you know sign language, keep an open mind. Don’t assume if you see something different that it’s wrong. Ask them “what does that mean?”. “Where did you learn that from?” Just take note of it… and that can be cool. Maybe it’s something older or something newer or it’s regional. There’s so many different reasons for what you’ll see. [JI] Especially important for interpreters! Hopefully you liked this video, and if you did click LIKE. Remember to subscribe. [JE] Also, if you want to provide support, we have a few different options. You can look at our merch store. See if you’d like to buy a shirt or a sticker. Also, you can look at our Patreon which has cool different perks depending on the level of what you want. We also have a one-time donation through Ko-fi for any amount, whatever you’d like. Or you can just share, we always appreciate that. Thank you! [JI] Thanks so much for watching and see you in the next video. Bye! ♪♪♪