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Sign Me Up! Online Edition

William G. Vicars, Ph.D.

MCSE, MCT, MCP+I, A+, Network+, EdNet


Opening "Chat Log Session 3" 
(Chapter 3) 

DrVicars:  What time do you all have? 

Gwen: 8:55 eastern 

Lii: 6:57 

KC: 6:53 

Sandy: 8:57 eastern  Gwen and I better synchronize :-) 

DrVicars: Thanks, we will begin in about five minutes :) 

Monica: Hello. I can't believe I made it online in three tries or less :-D 

Gwen: time zones will vary a few minutes according to location, it only took me 40 minutes to
sign on tonight! 

KC: By solar clocks. 

Lii: I got online in just two minutes! 

Tigie: I got on right away. 

DrVicars: Okay then lets get started :) 

DrVicars: I will present the agenda soon. 

DrVicars: For now, could you please let me know how your homework assignment went. 

Lii: It was easy to retrieve.  It was very informative as well. :) 

DrVicars: You were to read about the history and purpose of ASL, The NAD, and Pidgin. 
Also the signs for family and places 

KC: I'm with Lii 

Jessie: Hi all 

Sandy: Homework went well - especially enjoyed the graphics. 

Gwen: had some trouble with accessing due to traffic, the material is excellent 

Sandy: I sent an e-mail to your artist -the art really assisted in describing the signs 

DrVicars: Welcome everybody here is our agenda for tonight: 

DrVicars: First we will cover last week's homework, then any questions related to homework,
after that I'll give you homework assignment #3.  Finally we will cover whatever other questions
you have, including technical questions regarding accessing the site etc. 

DrVicars: So  if there are no important comments at this point,  let's get into it.  What is the

Sandy: National Association for the Deaf 

DrVicars: Good, can hearies joint it? 
["hearies" is a slang Deaf term for "hearing people," which in turn is a polite Deaf term for people
who can hear.] 

Monica: yes 

DrVicars: Right.  All you need is the membership fee.  Why join?  You can get their newspaper. 
[The Broadcaster]  That way you can read up on events that are happening all over the U.S.
and maybe even in your home town. 

Tigie: I read their newsletter/magazine at the library. 

DrVicars: Smart girl.  Next question, "Who was the person that went to France?" 

Sandy: Gallaudet 

DrVicars: Yes!  Whom did Gallaudet bring back? 

Sandy: Clerc 

DrVicars: Right again! 

DrVicars: What is "pidgin?" 

[many answered, "A combination of two languages."] 

DrVicars: Okay, so what is PSE, anybody know? 

Sandy: pidgin sign  english 

DrVicars: Is it a language? 

Tigie: yes 

Monica: yes 

Sandy: yes  but no rules 

KC: (like ebonics) 

DrVicars: Heh, 
[The author claims no substantial knowledge of Ebonics and makes no real comment.] 

DrVicars: Depends on whom you talk to. 

Tigie: :-) 

Sandy: q 

DrVicars: GA Sandy 

Sandy: If there are so many forms of PSE, how do people communicate who try to use it? 

DrVicars: Let me comment, PSE is NOT a language.  It is a "communication system."  Some
might even call it a "creole,"  (mixed language).  In general you won't find any society's parents
using it to raise their children. 

PSE is a "contact language," but most linguists will tend to say it is not a language in the same
sense as English or ASL. 

Sandy: Contact? 

DrVicars: It is used  to bridge the  gap between hearies and deafies when they are together.  I
hope that my use of the term hearies and deafies is not offensive to any of you.  It is just casual
tongue in cheek. 

Tigie: doesn't offend me 

DrVicars: Anyway, a contact language is for those times when two different language speakers
make contact like hearing  and deaf,  ASL and English.  You end up with a "contact" language
that neither tends to use at home. 

KC: Is it the language interpreters use? 

DrVicars: Interpreters use a wide variety of systems including SEE, PSE, ASL, and other
communication modes.  It depends on the client and the situation. 

I don't do much interpreting because of my hearing impairment, (you've heard of the blind
leading the blind? --I am the hard of hearing leading the Deaf, heh), but when I do interpret, I
tend to use a mix of PSE and ASL --I match my signing style to that of the deaf person. 

Here in the in the Northern Utah area I see a lot of PSE. 

Which brings up an interesting point: 

If you ask a typical Deaf person (here in Utah) what he signs, he will tend to respond, "ASL." 
He responds this way because it is the "Culturally Correct" thing to say, (even though he had
hearing parents and grew up signing SEE or PSE at the Utah State School for the Deaf). 

It is true that as a Deaf person gets out in the world his signs tend to become more ASL-like,
but it would be inappropriate (in this situation) to deny the influence of many years of Signed
English in the classroom and at home. 

Sandy: So, would people well "versed" in ASL be pretty understanding as we learn and bridge
the gap? 

DrVicars: Oh yes!  They are generally very nice about it.  Many deaf are what I call "tri-lingual." 
They live in the American mainsteam--they have to be. 

Sandy: :-) 

Art: Cool 

Monica: Like going to a foreign country and having to find the ladies room...You get the
message across :) 

Sandy: LOL 

DrVicars: Yes that is correct. 

DrVicars: Okay any more questions or comments about PSE?  Lets move on to the family signs
and "place" signs.  You need any clarification? 

Sandy: son vs boy? 

DrVicars: Okay,  "SON" combines the sign for  and the sign for "BABY."  (But you don't rock
the sign side to side.) 

Many deaf are very casual with the sign for "SON."  The left arm might just hang down instead
of being horizontal. 

I personally tend to hold the left arm horizontal--as if holding a baby and take the right "b" palm
hand from the forehead area [looks like a "salute"] and bring the right hand down to the crook
of  the left elbow, (ending with the right hand palm up). 

DrVicars: The sign for BOY is a combination of "MALE" and "CHILD."   Show the sign
"MALE" by grabbing the visor of an imaginary cap on your head with your thumb and fingertips
and then show how high the boy is. 

DrVicars: Does that help? 

Sandy: Yes, thank you 

Lii: Yes:) 

DrVicars: Fine then, let's talk about homework.  Next week I would like you to have studied the
signs for the following concept areas:  TIME, TEMPERATURE, and FOOD.  Also study
Culture, Grammar, and Expressions. 

DrVicars: Next week we will talk about the negation topic some of you have e-mailed me
about.   Any q's about your homework assignment? 

Tigie: I was wondering if Signed English and ASL use the same signs? 

DrVicars: Many of them are the same but there are some big differences, mostly affixes and

Initialization happens when you take one of the letters of the English gloss of the word and use it
as the handshape for the sign.  [Gloss is a way of writing about or representing a language in
another language.] 

Tigie: Like, family, class, team? 

DrVicars: Right Tigie, except you need to realize that many "invented" signs that were formerly
the property of Signed English, have now become accepted in mainstream ASL because of their
widespread use.  So FAMILY, CLASS, and TEAM are generally accepted as ASL, but many
other initialized signs are not (or not yet) accepted as ASL. 

Tigie: Hmm, ok thanks 

DrVicars: Let me explain a bit more and see if I can make the differences more clear. 

Signed English is a broad term that can refer a number of different signing systems.  But in
general, Signed English systems (including PSE) use a combination of ASL signs and English
signs, in English word order.  Another term, SEE (Signing Exact English, or Seeing Essential
English), makes a herculean effort to represent English on the hands.  SEE uses a lot more
initialization,  and also tries to represent all of the various affixes (suffixes and prefixes like: 
-ment, -ness, -ly, pre-, etc.) using special signs.  We could have an entire course just on the
differences, but my suggestion is to remember that few Deaf people are ALL or NOTHING. 
Most of them use a variety of styles according to their circumstances and needs.  In the
classroom many learned Signed English from their teacher, in the dorm they learned ASL from
their "Dorm-Mother" or "Dorm-Father" [dorm counselor]  or the older students. 

[Note:  Times are changing.  There is quite a bit of turnover in the dorm counselor positions
these days.   You almost never hear  dorm counselors referred to as "Dorm Mother" any more. 
There is very little stability these days.  Many of the Deaf Schools are being shut down for
so-called "financial reasons," (or the hearing administrators just don't realize that oftentimes a
Deaf school is indeed the Least Restrictive Environment.)] 

Sandy: Are more schools using signing now to teach deaf children? 

DrVicars: Oh yes!  A major change in philosophy for most of the schools out there.  It started
happening in the mid-eighties.  (Some say earlier, some say later.) 

Now signing is becoming very popular with all the youth, and so it stands to reason that as the
general population starts thinking of sign language as "cool," more schools will be willing to
adopt it. 

Sandy: Thank goodness - what was their major objection - to the point of tying hands? 

DrVicars: Actually it was beyond just tying hands, it was to the point of maiming hands.  They
used to whack you with a stick.  First offense they would slap your hand.  Second offense they
would place your hand on your desk and whack it with a ruler. Third offense, you would have to
stand behind the teacher's desk.  She would open the right front drawer and place your fingers
in it.  Then she would shove you from behind so that as you fell forward, your  weight and
momentum would slam the drawer shut on your fingers. 

Sandy: :( 

DrVicars: I'm not making that up.  I have older friends who experienced it. 

Lii: The school I volunteer at actually uses some signs for some hearing kids who have trouble
communicating through verbal means.   Some autistic kids are even using sign language to

DrVicars: That's great!  Right Lii, I see lots of schools using signing with their communicative
disorder-type kids these days.  It really seems to help! 

Monica: Many schools and colleges in Florida offer signing as a foreign language! 

DrVicars: Good!  Many of the states are offering it as a foreign language now.  Utah passed a
law requiring the acceptance of ASL in fulfillment of foreign language requirements at all
institutions of higher education throughout the state. 
KC: An authority figure here told me "the deaf prefer to speak!"  I think she is wrong. 

DrVicars: :) and I agree with you KC, she is wrong! 

[Authors' note: "Let's not be stereotypical here--some "physically deaf" people DO prefer to
speak.  Culturally Deaf people prefer to sign.] 

DrVicars: The Deaf people would prefer to sign and you ALL to sign :)  But that brings up an
important point.  There are many deaf out there who believe oralism is the way to go.  There is a
whole camp of people out there who believe that it is morally wrong to teach deaf kids to sign
because they say that will slow down their development.  My philosophy is "Why not learn
both?"  Learn signing first, then go ahead and learn to lipread and speak to whatever extent you
have a facility for it.  I've read some studies that support the idea that signing actually helps
facilitate the development of speech!  Please realize that not everybody can pick up speech and
lipreading, just as not everybody can get the hang of surfing or skateboarding.  It doesn't mean
you are less intelligent.  It just means you are intelligent in other areas!  If you meet someone
who feels lipreading is the best way to go, relax, maybe it's the best way to go for THEM. 

Lii: It's a fun language to learn and use.  It's also a very beautiful language to watch.:) 

DrVicars: Yes. 

[Various discussion] 

Lii: How does one go about using ing, s, and ed endings ?  Does it need to be done? 

DrVicars: Good question Lii. Can I answer that next week during the grammar discussion? 

Lii: You bet. 

DrVicars: Thanks Lii 

Sandy: Similar question - how do we use punctuation?  Just pause - other than emphasis with

DrVicars: Again  a good question.  Okay then, let me go ahead and answer both questions
briefly here, then we'll hear comments from those of you who have them. 

DrVicars: "s" is a pluralization topic. You can pluralize any particular concept in a number of
ways.  So far in our lessons we have been using a sweeping motion, (To turn the word "HE" into
the word "THEY").  "ed" is established by using a "tense marker" like PAST or is understood by
context.   For example if I know you are talking about a trip you went on last week, You don't
need to keep signing "PAST," I would understand it was past tense.  You could sign "TRUE
GOOD" and I would know you meant the trip went really well. 

DrVicars: Now, punctuation.  You are right, you punctuate a sentence via your pauses and facial

DrVicars:  "ing, ed, and other suffixes are not used in ASL.  If I want to change "learn" into
"learning" I simply sign it twice to show it is a process. Many times the "ing" is implied.  For
example, "YESTERDAY I RUN" could be interpreted as "Yesterday I went for a run," or you
could interpret it as, "Yesterday I was running."  How you interpret it would depend on the rest
of the message (context). 

Tigie: I've been wondering how to indicate a word is over before the next word when fingerspelling? 

DrVicars: Most of the time in ASL spelling is not done for more than a single word embedded in
a sentence.  We just use spelling for occasional words, (proper nouns that don't have signs,
peoples names,  technical words that don't have signs, etc.) 

In general if there is a concept that you need to express  but  you don't have a sign for it, you "explain" it.  For example:  For the color "maroon," instead of fingerspelling it, you would sign
"RED, PURPLE, BROWN, APPROXIMATE."  The sign for APPROXIMATE is:  A five hand, palm out,  makes a small circular motion (up, right, down, left,) as if waxing a car, (wax on
wax off, heh,)  Think of having put the above mentioned colors on a piece of paper on the
wall--then smearing the colors together with the palm and fingers of the hand in a circular
motion.  You would end up with a maroon color.  The other person would understand what you
meant even though he didn't know the English word "maroon."  Many people spell the word
then explain it.  After you have established the meaning you can just spell it from then on, (or
abbreviate it, or in some special instances--come up with a sign). 

DrVicars: Anyway if I did need to indicate when one fingerspelled word stops and the next
starts, I would use the same principle as you do when writing a sentence.  You put a small space
(pause) between the letters.  Just like the small space there is between the words I am typing

Tigie: Do you put your hands down when you pause? 

DrVicars: Not unless I want the other person to start signing.  <grin>  Suppose it takes you
"point three (.3) seconds" to spell each letter of a word, then you would only need maybe a
"point three (.3) second pause between letters to indicate a break. 

This might seem impossibly short and fast to you now, but think back to when you were in
kindergarten and learning to read and write seemed so impossible. 

Monica: I was able to check out video tapes from library this week. They have been a lot of
help... especially since I have little contact with the Deaf community. 

Lii: I did that, too. 

DrVicars: Good!  You all should try that. 

DrVicars: Any other comments before we go to the technical session? 

[Various technology issues related to computers and the internet were discussed.] 

DrVicars: Any other questions or comments before I close?...Fine, you all have your
assignments.  I will look forward to seeing you next week.  That is about it for now.  I will hang
around and answer anything else. 

Sandy: thank you - 

Jessie: thanks and have a good week 

Sharp: Have a great week Professor! 

Daniel: Until next time all have a good week. 

Nicola: thanks a lot! 

Season: Thank you and everyone have a good week.  Nite :) 

Tigie: Bye till next week 

Lii: All of you, have a wonderful week.  See you next time.  Bye:) 

[various discussion and signing off] 

Closing "Chat Log #3"