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Codeswitching:


Crazy: I notice there are some other forms of sign which I "dunno," so,--do those people still understand ASL? It's like the same word, but they sign it in a totally different way.

DrVicars: Regarding other forms of signing: There are a wide variety of signing styles. Some sign SEE, others use a "contact signing" system, (you might hear people talk about PSE or pidgin signed English or a pidgin system--but I prefer to call it "contact signing," while others use ASL.  Most adult Deaf seem to understand multiple variations just fine (even though most prefer ASL). There are also different "registers" of signing. Meaning--you can sign the same sign more formally or more casually. The standard registers include: Frozen, formal, contact, casual, and intimate.

Crazy: okay

DrVicars: Sometimes we codeswitch to a different system.

KC: 'code switch?'

DrVicars: People codeswitch when they adjust or change their current style of siging to one of the other signing systems out there.

DrVicars: For example, I might change from ASL to "contact signing"  if a Hearing person walks up. Then after a while--if he seems to sign ASL just fine--I will switch back to ASL. Codeswitching can help save time. I don't have to repeat myself, if I go on signing ASL for a few minutes then I might have to repeat the same information again when I realize the newcomer doesn't know ASL.

Decca: What does SEE stand for?

DrVicars: Signing Exact English. Later some people started saying that it means Seeing Essential English. I've heard it was because many parents (back in the old days) had a hang up with signing and so the school administrators were using the second term to get rid of the word "Signing." Around that same time they (the teachers and other people who used it) modified some of the rules of SEE and thus some people started calling it SEE1 and SEE2.
My informal surveys of the Deaf Community show that 99.77 percent of them don't give a fig (or have any idea of the existence) about the 1 or the 2.  Most just lump any English-like signing under SEE or Signed English and they lump any ASL-like signing under ASL. The exception are certain ASL teachers who become a bit rabid about their own version of ASL or the version of ASL taught in the text book they are using.

In general, just remember that the SEE methods are invented sign systems.  They are intended to represent English on the hands.  The intent is to help Deaf children learn English by representing it visually.  There is some "confusion" out there in the literature.   Regardless of "reality" and "historical fact" people in the Deaf Education field have been using SEE 1 to mean Seeing Essential English. SEE 1 signs are primarily based on English Syllables.

They've been using SEE 2  in reference to Signing Exact English. SEE 2 signs are primarily based on the 2 of three rule: Spelling, pronunciation, and meaning, if two concepts share two of the three characteristics they will use the same sign.  The concept "wind" in the sentences "I need to wind my watch," and, "I need wind to fly my kite," would be signed differently in each sentence.

DrVicars: Code switching is somewhat like when you are at a party talking to an adult. Then a child comes and asks you something--you switch your level of communication to that which the child would understand. Then after she has left, you switch back to your adult style.

Lii: I had a funny experience when I was doing the 1990 census. I floundered a whole lot when I met this deaf couple. (I had no idea how to sign then.) They were so patient with me, I had no trouble communicating to them and them to me. They became friends with me until they moved out of town. So even though I knew not how to sign, they taught me a lot!

DrVicars: Good story Lii. Many of my current students take classes because of similar experiences.  I guess a moral for that story might be: "The Deaf can communicate with you if you and they are both patient enough." But we do need to be careful about generalizing.


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