Other Free Encyclopedias » Social Issues Reference » Child Development Reference - Vol 4 » Hearing Loss and Deafness - Levels Of Hearing Loss, Sign Languages, Deafness In Relation To Language And Social Development, Education Of Deaf Children: Research Findings

Hearing Loss and Deafness - Sign Languages

english children asl signs

In the mid-1700s, Charles-Michel de l'Epée, a French cleric, observed that twin girls who had grown up together used fluent gestures to communicate with each other, and it occurred to him that this gestural language might already be equipped with syntax. He proposed to extend the native sign language of the deaf with supplementary methodical signs until this sign language became the intellectual equivalent of any spoken language. Today there are many sign languages based on hand signs and they differ widely in different countries and are not mutually intelligible for a deaf person. American Sign Language (AMSLAN or ASL) is a true language with syntactic and morphological rules different from those of spoken English. ASL signs are distinguished from one another by hand shape, movement, location in space, orientation of the hands during signing, and facial expression. In a book published in 1979, Edward Klima and Ursula Bellugi provided specific descriptions of ASL grammar and rules.

Some signing systems have added artificial signs for English morphemes such as verb tense markers and "is." Signed English, Seeing Essential English (SEE), and Cued Speech are a few of the manual forms developed. SEE was developed to represent spoken English literally, so that a signed sentence would be as complete as the spoken one. When the syntactic language skills of deaf children of deaf parents who used either ASL or SEE were analyzed, children in the SEE group achieved higher scores. The performance of the SEE children was closer to the English scores of hearing children. Nevertheless, some researchers, while observing teachers who employed a signed English system, found that many of the declarative statements and questions signed were grammatically incorrect. This may occur when teacher training is not rigorous and may also occur simply because of the increased number of signs required by SEE compared with ASL. Some specialists reason that it is not necessary to sign each and every morpheme of oral English, because a child can infer the missing elements from predictable structure and semantics, as well as through lipreading and use of residual hearing. A potential problem when SEE is used is that some children may not have the necessary reasoning and thinking skills to deduce from context the deleted segments of a manual message. Young children may be bombarded with too much information; they can misinterpret a message because of stress.

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