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How To Learn Sign Language

PopLanguage: ASL (American Sign Language) [CC]

American Sign Language, also known as ASL is a language used by the Deaf and Hard of Hearing communities in America and English-speaking Canada There are about 500,000 native speakers of ASL And there may be several million more who can use it but just not fluently or natively However ASL is only restricted to the United States and Canada The UK uses British Sign Language and Australia uses Australian Sign Language Both of which are NOT compatible with American Sign Language However, people who use sign language can also read and write English So they can communicate that way if they need to as well. Before ASL, there were a variety of sign languages used in the United States People used French Sign Language, they used home sign languages which develops in the household, and some people used community sign languages if the community had a sizable deaf population. So there was a lot of variation in the United States and there wasn’t really one way to speak. In 1817, Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet- this guy- founded the American School for the Deaf after studying deaf pedagogy in France. And this brought Deaf and Hard of Hearing people from all over the United States into one place. And it provided them with educational opportunities that they didn’t have before. If you’ve heard of Gallaudet University, it’s named after Thomas Gallaudet and it’s a really prestigious university that caters to Deaf and Hard of Hearing students. With all of the students coming together and all of the varieties coming together in one place, They needed a way to communicate with each other. So ASL developed as a mixture of the French Sign Language, the home sign languages, and the community sign languages And it formed its own unique grammar and vocabulary Because it’s a sign language, the grammar works a little bit differently. You don’t have things like verb conjugations or cases. But things like facial expressions, how quickly you make the sign, and how many times you make the sign, all affect how the language is understood. Facial expressions especially account for most of the *real* communication in ASL. There have been attempts to write ASL, with things like Stokoe Notation and SignWriting, But there’s really no consensus on how to write American Sign Language Since almost all ASL speakers can read and write English, There’s really no need for a separate writing system. ASL is a really beautiful language to look at and speak And there’s an entire Deaf and Hard of Hearing culture to learn about. If you’d like to learn ASL, I’ve put some Links in the description bar to help you get started. But also check in your area for Deaf and Hard of Hearing events People are more than happy to help you learn it. This video was made from your suggestions, so if you have a suggestion for what language I should do next, Leave it in a comment below and lemme know! If you enjoyed this video and you’d like to see more from me, Please give me a thumbs up and subscribe to my channel And I will see y’all next time, BYEEEEE

14 Replies to “PopLanguage: ASL (American Sign Language) [CC]”

  • Thank you for doing this video. You have become my favorite YouTuber and I look forward to everytime you upload a video. You are are a great role modle and I hope your videos reach so many other people like me and many others that love your videos.

  • I live in australia and where i want to live keeps changeing. i was going to learn asl but now i think i will just go with astralian sign lagugaue. Good i dea or not?

  • Ben, I am trying not to get angry, because I do enjoy your videos a lot, but Sign Language is an area I am very interested (linguistics grad student), and I am particularly interested on the writing systems. "Since almost all ASL speakers can read and write English, there is really no need for a separate writing system". SERIOUSLY?? That statement makes me want to write a few things that would probably be censored.

    Of course, I need to qualify my statements. I am saying this as a hearing person with just a fairly basic level of LESCO (Costa Rican Sign Language), who has a few friends on the local deaf community, but who is really not immerse in it.

    Said that, I wonder if you would have been the one saying to the Beowulf poet that, "Since almost all literate Old English speakers can read and write Latin, there is really no need for Old English writing", or to Chaucer "Since almost all literate Middle English speakers can read and write French, write your stuff in French." Seriously. Have you read poetry translated from, say, English to Spanish, and being able to appreciate it in its original English. There are many things that cannot be translated to express the same thing. There is beautiful poetry in Sign Language. Language is culture, and writing is the only way to leave a lasting and accurate record of language. Imagine if Shakespeare was available only on its "original Klingon" (sorry, I could not let the geeky reference pass). How that would be a loss for the cultural heritage of the English world.

    You talk about Stokoe and SignWriting. William Stokoe was a linguist, and he designed the writing system that bears his name more as a IPA type system, than as a system to write the language in the day to day. And SignWriting is simply impossible to handwrite. You might want to check ASLWrite. It is the most promessing thing I have seen lately.

    I am fairly ignorant about the situation in the US. What I found on a quick google search says that the average deaf adult has the reading skills of the average 4th grader (not reading at 4th grade level, but reading as the average 4th grader, that reads below grade). The place where I found it did not cite its sources, so, I am not sure how accurate it is. But I have seen the writings of deaf people in Spanish, and it is obviously written by someone who is far from a native Spanish speaker, even if written by someone who has lived their entire life in a Spanish speaking country. Literacy and educational levels in the deaf community here are unfortunately much lower than in the general population, and their unemployment rate is disgustingly sky high.

    I am not saying that having a widely spread, easy to learn and easy to use writing system would be the Panacea, and would create an environment of equality of opportunity over night…. but it would be a good start.

    Also, I have studied French and Japanese. I am light years away from being fluent in either, but I can understand very basic stuff. I have studied LESCO longer than the combine time I have stuided those two, and my level is even lower. Part of this difference is because if I did not remember the pronunciation of a word I learn in class, I could go and see who I wrote it. If I did not remember the sign for a particular concept in LESCO, I could search in the online dictionary (that contains maybe a couple hundred terms), and if I did not find it, I was out of luck. A system like that can help learning Sign Language as a second language A LOT. And not only for idiots like me who have some interest in the language but not a real urgent need for it, but for the parents of 90% of deaf kids born to hearing parents, who before that, had no need to have learned the language.

  • you should do a video on Unserdeutsch a German based creole originating in papua new guinea that is on the verg of extinction

  • for anyone who is scared that their computer is broken:
    1. it isn't
    2. turn on subtitles
    3. like this comment please…


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