Tuesday, November 20, 2007
A Psycholinguistic Field Day
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.