Tuesday, November 20, 2007

A Psycholinguistic Field Day

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At first you might look at this and think, "What in the world...?"
In sign language class last night, BG wrote this up on the board as an example of an 8 1/2 year old deaf girl's written communication. It is very difficult to learn how to write when you cannot hear; you can't connect the letters with sounds and you can't sound out words. All words are sight words. Janey (name has been changed) is learning American Sign Language, which has a syntax very different from that of English. Meaning is conveyed through the location of the sign relative to the body and the face, the facial expression, and the position of the body, hands, and arms in space. Janey was trying to express meaning in writing, and all she had was ASL. She did not know the English words for what she was trying to say. Therefore, being a truly creative language learner, Janey took what she does know (ASL) and translated it into a written medium. The first line means that the girl scouts meet in the cafeteria. The "CVC" does not stand for consonant-vowel-consonant (as I originally thought; thanks Dr. Fallon! ;) ) but represents the sign for cafeteria. You cup your hand into a C, touch one side of your chin, and then touch the other. The "V" is representing the chin, and the "C" is representing the hand of the hand. The second line means "All the children settle down". If you go here: http://www.aslpro.com, click on Main Dictionary, "S", and then scroll down to "Settle", you can see how Janey made a graphic representation of the sign for "settle". The smiley face is meant to represent the children. Wouldn't it be interesting if ASL came up with its own written language in this manner? BG says that deaf children often come up with graphic representations of signs for words that they do not know. I think it shows a lot of resourcefulness on the part of these children, and their determination to get their meaning across. I don't think most people think like this. I found it fascinating.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


Any student of any sort can tell you of the wonders of procrastination. You discover so many wonderful things! My favorite vehicles for putting off my work are boingboing.net, craftster.org/forums, and youtube.com. I also email my fiancee (because I am engaged now, which is crazy) incessantly. Lucky man. ;) This month I am also writing a novel for National Novel Writing Month (nanowrimo.org). 50,000 words of one story in 30 days! Madness! I'm at 19,939 at the moment, so I'm about 2,000 words behind where I should be, but I'm not too worried about it. I'm going to try to catch up today. It's been fantastic for keeping me in touch with my creative writing side, which apparently has NO PLACE in the SLP world. Fortunately I plan to write books for my kids. Take that, soap notes! (No, I don't know why they call your write-ups from a therapy session soap notes. I guess that's why I pay them the big bucks, so that they will reveal such mysteries to me.) I'm writing the novel online using Zoho writer, and if you want to read along shoot me an email at little.birdy@gmail.com and I will give you read/write permission. If you create an account with them (it's free), then you can edit my story and leave me comments. Keep in mind that I'm going for quantity rather than quality at this point; the idea is to get it all down without worrying about how good it is, and then going back and editing it later.
So that is what I'm doing these days to procrastinate.