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Problematic wording

- and a few suggested ways to discuss and ask questions about ASL in online groups:

Problematic wording: "What is the sign for ____?"
Safer wording: "What are some ways to sign _____?"

Problematic wording: "That's the sign for ____."
Safer wording: "That's a sign for ____."

It is rare that there is only "one" sign for any particular concept. Since there are often multiple signs or versions of signs that could be used to express a topic I would suggest that we lean toward allowing for the existence of signs of which we personally might not be aware.

Problematic wording: "That's not how it is signed."
Safer wording: "I sign it differently."

Problematic wording: "That's wrong."
Safer wording: "I'm not familiar with the sign you used.  Did you mean _____?   If so, here are some links to examples of that sign that seem fairly common [insert links].

Problematic wording:  "That's Signed English!"
Safer wording:  "I've see a way to sign that concept without using the English initial as the handshape. Here's a link [insert link here]."

Some people seem to delight (or simply knee jerk) in mislabeling all initialized signs as "Signed English." That is a naive approach to language discussion, learning, and teaching.

Definition: "naive" -- "(of a person or action) showing a lack of experience, wisdom, or judgment." (Source: Oxford)

ASL is a "continuum" ranging from "highly depictive" signing to a type of signing that allows everyday Deaf people to live in a diglossic sub-society in which we must (at least occasionally) interact with members of the larger more dominant society (that happen to speak and write English) and from which we have borrowed their orthography for script or text-based communication. (In other words, when ASL signers need to write or type -- we do so in English). Ignoring this relationship or pretending it doesn't exist is, again, naive.

Definition: "continuum" -- a continuous sequence in which adjacent elements are not perceptibly different from each other, although the extremes are quite distinct. (Source: Oxford).

Definition: "diglossia" -- a situation in which two languages (or two varieties of the same language) are used under different conditions within a community, often by the same speakers. (Source: Oxford)

Definition: "orthography" -- the conventional spelling system of a language." (Source: Oxford)





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