An interpreting student was taking a
class and her instructor mentioned "Methodical Sign Language."
The student was curious about this term and wanted more information so she emailed her instructor:
Thank you for a wonderful class today.
I'll be blunt as in Deaf Culture...I've never heard the term Methodical Sign Language
before. I checked a few of my books on the term and couldn't come up with anything.
I'm assuming that Methodical means 'planned out' or 'mapped out' sign language. Also, I
would think that ASL is considered a Natural Sign Language. Therefore, by process of elimination, I would guess that
Methodical Sign Language would be the invented systems such as SEE.
However, I really don't like to assume or guess...thus, the email.
Any clarification you could provide would be appreciated.
Then the student forwarded her question to me for my response. Of course, I'd heard the term before, and knew
it had to do with
and French signing, but I
wanted to provide a more complete answer so I researched it a bit and was
delighted to find this very clear explanation:
"During the late 1700s and early
1800s, the education of deaf and hard of hearing students and the use of sign language was a common occurrence. Sign
language was viewed not only as an educational tool but also as a method of communication. The methods of teaching
that used sign language were based on methods used to educate deaf and hard of hearing children in France. Sign
language was the mode of communication in the first public school for deaf students, founded in 1755 by the Abbé
Charles Michel de l’Epée (Gannon 1981). L’Epée is considered by many to be the father of modern day sign language.
L’Epée’s purpose was to modify signs that were naturally used by deaf people in Paris (i.e., French Sign Language, or
FSL) “in such a way as to develop a visual analog of written French” (Stedt and Moores 1990, 2). In his book, The
Instruction of the Deaf and Dumb by Means of Methodical Signs, l’Epée (1801) referred to this sign system as
“Methodical Signs.” These were natural FSL signs produced in the syntax of spoken French (what we in the United States
might call “Pidgin Signed English” or “contact signing”).
-- [Source: Educational Interpreting: How It Can Succeed, Elizabeth A. Winston, Ed., Part 2, "Competencies of K-12
Educational Interpreters: What We Need versus What We Have" by Bernhardt E. Jones, retrieved 9/7/2006 from
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