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American Sign Language: Is there more than one way to sign student?

In a message dated 3/24/2015 4:20:39 P.M. Pacific Daylight Time, Traci writes:

My friend and I were at ASLville in Virginia Beach, VA. This is a yearly event that the ASL club puts together and it is held at the college. The first activity that everyone works on and continues with through the morning and afternoon is a bingo sheet. My friend asked someone if she was an ITP student (one of the bingo spaces). When she signed student (which she used the sign you teach), this lady told her she was signing incorrectly. She was very serious with her and persistent to say she was signing incorrectly. Another lady came over and mentioned something about being the formal way of signing student.

Anyway, just wanted to get some input from you on this. Of course at this event, we communicate only through ASL. My friend was really frustrated by this lady's attitude about this. We wear color coded name tags so we can easily know the level of those attending, so it was obvious that my friend was a beginner. We would love to know what you have to say about this.

Just a little background info, I teach ASL to a middle school class in our homeschool co-op. My friend is my helper in that class (but is helping so she can learn as well). I am self taught through your curriculum, so I consider myself a student and teacher ;) This was the first time my friend attended ASLville, but this was my third time. It is an awesome event and is really our only exposure to the deaf community. Attending this event is the highlight of my year!!!

I look forward to hearing back from you. Thank you so much for your time and thank you so so so so much for ALL that you do and have done to make learning ASL possible! We are in a rural area, so the college is an hour away, which makes it difficult for me to attend classes. Your curriculum has been a blessing to me!!!

God Bless you and your family.

Traci ______

Hello :)
I'm curious as to what was the "correction?"
Meaning, you mention that the "lady" didn't like a certain version of the sign for STUDENT, but not what the version was that the lady wanted instead.
But hey, this isn't my first rodeo so I can pretty much guess that the "expert" (cough, cough) was "recommending"  a version of student that basically uses STUDY-PERSON instead of the version LEARN-PERSON that I teach at Lifeprint.
The sign for STUDENT (based on LEARN-PERSON = "learner" = "student") can vary quite a bit from very formal: looking literally like someone first signed LEARN and then signed PERSON-(non-initialized-version) -- to very casual: looking like you are "throwing something away" (the dominant hand fingers come together above the non-dominant palm and then move quickly to the side (changing into a flat hand) then both hands move downward (in the PERSON sign).
However, you will find the occasional Deaf person (less lately it seems) who signs STUDY-PERSON.
For what it is worth, 25 years ago I used to sign STUDY-PERSON (to mean "student") prior to noticing that just about everyone around me was using LEARN-PERSON.
How to double check if I'm full of crap? Go visit all of the main "online" ASL dictionaries and look up "STUDENT."
Also look it up in every "printed" dictionary you can find.
And later when you run into native Deaf ASL signing adults ask them.
Take care,
Dr. Bill

STUDENT (or "Learner"  =  "LEARN - PERSON")

Sample Animation: "STUDENT" (.gif file)

Also see: "STUDY"
Also see: "LEARN"


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