Cover next page > title: Seeing Language in Sign : The Work of William C. Stokoe author

Download 2.48 Mb.
View original pdf
Size2.48 Mb.
1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   ...   191
Seeing Language in Sign The Work of William C. Stokoe (Jane Maher) (Z-Library)
< previous page
next page >
If you like this book, buy it!

< previous page
next page >
Page xii or broken English on the handssomething without internal structure or coherence or rules, something far below the level of language. This view was not only near-universal among the hearing population, but was shared by most deaf people, too. It was this view that had led (following the notorious Milan conference of 1880) to the stamping out of sign inmost schools for the deaf, relegating sign to an informal, sometimes ashamed, marginal existence. Stokoe, coming to Gallaudet as an outsider,
without these ingrained biases, was quick to recognize the intelligence of his young students and the swiftness and efficiency of their forbidden, private signing. He saw its power as a tool, a vehicle for communication and culture. He had to suspect, despite universal doubt, that signing was a genuine language. He then turned to a minute examination of the act, the interactions, of signing itselfan examination made possible by his extraordinary powers of observation and analysis (to which he soon added cinematography and a frame-by-frame analysis of signing. He was now able to show that signs were not just pictorial or iconic,
but, on the contrary, complex abstract symbols with an elaborate internal structure.
He was the first to look fora structure, to analyze signs, to dissect them, to search for constituent parts. He proposed that each sign had at least three independent partslocation, handshape, and movement (analogous to the phonemes of speech) and that each part had a limited number of combinations. He delineated nineteen different handshapes, twelve locations, and twenty-four types of movements. These symbols, moreover, were linked in a syntax or grammar every bit as complex and complete as that of spoken language. In 1960 he published his groundbreaking paper, Sign Language Structure, and five years later (with his deaf colleagues Dorothy Casterline and Carl Croneberg) the monumental Dictionary of American Sign Language on Linguistic
Principles. Signs in the dictionary were arranged not thematically (e.g., signs for food, signs for animals, etc) but systematically, according to their parts and the organization and principles of the language. This work showed the lexical structure of language, the linguistic interrelatedness of a basic 3000 sign "words."

Download 2.48 Mb.

Share with your friends:
1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   ...   191

The database is protected by copyright © 2024
send message

    Main page