Perception of Spoken/Written vs Signed Languages


Hello! Welcome back. Before I jump into today’s post, I wanted to remind you that this post has a companion video, linked above. I’m going to go back through this website and modify the titles, so if the title has [VIDEO(S)], that means it’s only the video, and no blog post attached with it. If it’s just a regular title, it’s a blog post. My website is being weird right now, and not showing pictures and such if you look at the homepage, but individual posts are fine, so just do that. I’ll try to figure out what’s going on and fix it. I’m still working on older videos, but I will let you know when they’re up! Let me know what you think of them, do you like them? I appreciate any feedback! Also, quick reminder – I have a Patreon and ko-fi. I seriously appreciate any support you guys give me. Okay, enough dawdling, let’s get into the post.

Today, I’ll be responding to a comment on my ASL Ponderings video about prefixes. This comment was made a while ago, but I just haven’t gotten around to thinking about it until now.

Remember, what I’ll be saying is mostly from my experience, and mainly the US. It’s an interesting thing to look at, especially sign. A lot of people will say that they’ve always wanted to learn a language different from their own. And from my experience here in the US, a lot have said they’d love to learn ASL. But even so, there isn’t that much value put upon knowing another language here. Especially Trump’s ‘Murica, many of these people believe that in ‘Murica you only speak English. (Ignoring the obvious fact that English is NOT an indigenous language, and Spanish is widely spoken.) ANYWAY. I talked about this in another video, linked, there’s a term for people who know many languages and that’s polyglot. Many polyglots know only written/spoken languages. Very few actually know a sign language.

In regard to ASL, I’ve seen people think that ASL isn’t a real language, that it’s just a gestural system based off English. Wrong! There’s plenty of research proving it’s a true language. The same is true for many other sign languages. In 2011, the Italian government tried to label LIS [Lingua dei Segni Italiana] as a gestural language. It failed, thankfully, but it’s still not formally recognized as a language. I’ve seen people say that it’s better to learn another spoken language like Spanish or French because you’re more likely to use/need it in the future than a sign language. I would disagree, depending on where you reside and how often you actually interact with people who speak/sign a particular language. I believe that it would honestly be better to teach ALL children in the US ASL, because they can use it with each other, and their Deaf classmate if they so happen to have one. Besides, ASL IS an indigenous language! I feel that since people often don’t realize that ASL is a true language, and the fact that it’s a visual language with no aural components, they don’t see it as equal to a spoken language. They can hear the difference between German, Czechian and Flemish, but they can’t see the difference between Japanese Sign Language, Dansk Tegnsprog and Lengua de Señas Chilena. People who sign can however. That’s another thing, many people assume that there’s only one sign language. Why do you think it’s called AMERICAN Sign Language? And with how many spoken languages there are, do you honestly think that there would be only ONE sign language ALL OVER THE WORLD? So people somehow think higher of you if you know another spoken language, rather than a sign language.

There’s another thing that has far more negative connotations. If someone says they know ASL for example, people will often automatically assume they know sign because they’re interpreters for “the helpless deaf people.” Or doing some “good work” to help the “poor deaf people.” I know not everyone has this attitude, which is why I said often, but this happens very frequently. Sure, a lot of hearing people who know sign happen to be interpreters as well, but it’s often not because they’re taking pity on deaf people. (Oh yes, there are interpreters who have this attitude of “I have to help the poor deaf people!”) But that’s not for here. Of course, the attitude towards sign language all depends on the area, the country, the people. Here in the US, ASL is definitely being seen in a much better light with the recent explosion in #DeafTalent being shown in media. People are having a renewed interest in it, so perhaps the perception will change as time goes on. Let me know what you think about this in the comments of the video! Follow me on social media: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. Thanks for reading, see ya next time.

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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