International Sign, Not ASL?


Screen Shot 2017-03-13 at 21.34.33.pngHello! Welcome to my first post/video after Deaf Awareness Month! In my last video, I mentioned a project that I was doing, but couldn’t really say much about it. Well, now I can. That project was a video I made for Ai-Media (see previous post for video). In that video, I talk about Americans and their relationship with the international community. I think it’s an interesting thing to watch and think about. In relation to that, I decided I wanted to upload something today related to the international community. This video was an assignment I did for Frontrunners several months ago. This assignment gave each of us a question related to our personal background. My question was “Why should Americans/Canadians NOT use ASL when you’re traveling outside of the US/Canada. Why should you use International, not ASL?” So that was my project. I had to make a video explaining the reasons why, and so on. That will be the rest of the post/video. I’m going to go ahead and end here. I don’t need to say anything more. Just read/watch the post/video. (Note: The rest of the video is in International Sign, so turn on captions if you need them.) I will see you next time, and enjoy!

Question: When Americans go outside of the US or Canada, and sign ASL… NO! Why?

Glorification: ASL is very vaunted and looked up to by people. There’s quite enough of that. Does it need more glorifying? No. Triumphalist: People who say, “Yes, it’s sad that languages die out/are killed. That’s the natural way of life – languages dying out and being replaced by another.” One language growing and spreading, others fading out and being replaced. The right time, the right place. Take ASL for example. Back in the 1960s, research proved that ASL was a true language. This was the first ever, which set off a domino effect of having research, academics, and many more related to ASL. Invisibler: Linguists that do research say that there are about 6,000-7,000 languages, but forget about sign languages. That means maybe about 14,000 languages! Or… Saying these are the languages that exist, and there are no more than this list. This is connected to linguicide. How are Invisiblers connected to Americans? Many Americans think of ASL only, and forget that there are many more sign languages, contributing to linguicide. Besserwisser: a German word, meaning “know-it-all.” Many Americans have this attitude of knowing it all, ASL is the best. For example, if hearing people from say, Italy, went to Denmark. Would they speak Italian? No. Would they speak Danish? Maybe they don’t know it. That’s okay, they figure out another way. Gesturing, maybe writing, figuring out how to communicate, but putting Italian aside. What hearing people do, the same applies to deaf Americans. Going to another country, and signing ASL? No, put that aside and sign that country’s sign language. Or gesture, or use International Sign.

File:Logo of the United Nations (B&W).svgThe UN has a convention says that languages must be protected, preserved, encouraged, and respect be given to minority languages. Respecting, protecting, and preserving minority languages connects to Americans signing ASL how? In the sign language community, ASL is a “majority” language. Which means Americans must respect minority languages, encourage and support them. International Sign is very influenced by ASL. With that influence, International Sign influences regional signs as well. There are people who take International Sign and use it in their language. That’s not respective of minority languages. To conclude, when Americans go outside of the US, it’s best to put aside ASL and sign in the regional sign or International.

Published by Rogan Shannon

Hello there! I'm Rogan, a queer deaf guy who has a passion for leadership and advocacy. I create YouTube videos about a lot of different topics - being deaf, queer, reading, language, and whatever else interests me!

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