ASL University | Bookstore | Catalog | Dictionary | Lessons | Resources | Syllabi | Library

Book Recommendation:

By Harry Bornstein and Karen L. Saulnier.
New York: Crown Publishers, Inc., 1984

Excerpt: "The Purpose of Signed English"

Signed English serves two basic purposes. First, it is a model of the English language. Second, it is used to communicate information between people. When it first becomes known that the child has a hearing impairment, it is very important that the adult serve as a language model while communicating information. Later, when the child is older and has mastered language patterns, it is usually acceptable to concentrate on exchanging information. At that time the language modeling function becomes less important. In educational settings, it is probably always desirable for the teacher to remain a model. Let us talk further about some of the implications of the two basic purposes of Signed English.

Because Signed English should be used with speech, the signs are not the only source of information. Depending upon the degree of hearing loss and the quality of amplification used, hearing-impaired children also receive some information from the actual sounds of speech. Further, they receive some information from the shape of the lips as the speaker forms his or her words. Indeed, they also receive information from the eyes, eyebrows, and a host of other small clues. The point being made is a simple one: A manual English system is a second, parallel and redundant model of English for the hearing-impaired child. It need not, and indeed cannot, perfectly represent English. This would make Signed English so complex as to be virtually unlearnable.

[Source:  "Signing" by Harry Bornstein and Karen L. Saulnier. New York: Crown Publishers, Inc., 1984. p. ix]

NEW!  Online "ASL Training Center!"  (Premium Subscription Version of ASLU)  ** CHECK IT OUT **

Also available: "" (a mirror of less traffic, fast access)  ** VISIT NOW **

Want to help support Lifeprint / ASLU?  It's easy!     

You can learn sign language online at American Sign Language University
hosted by Dr. William Vicars