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Around The World In 50 Minutes: Understanding How Country Signs are Used

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A fifty-minute presentation for ASL & Deaf Studies students at Utah Valley University's 2013 Spring Silent Weekend. Intended to help attendees understand the etymology of country signs and how to appropriately incorporate them into their vocabularies

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Around The World In 50 Minutes: Understanding How Country Signs are Used

  1. 1. Around the World in 50 Minutes: Understanding How Country Signs are Used Doug Stringham, MS, QAIII Utah Valley University
  2. 2. What are we going to do today?
  3. 3. • Learn about and understand etymologies and evolution of country signs in ASL • Understand and learn about how country signs are given definition and a proposed framework for country sign creation/validation
  4. 4. • Understand how Deaf communities use and identify themselves with certain country signs • Learn several indigenous country signs
  5. 5. You’re a nerd, you know that? So, where did this information come from?
  6. 6. Researched country signs in 17 sign language dictionaries printed between 1909 and 2005.
  7. 7. Nerd, hardcore. Signs (especially country signs)have always changed.
  8. 8. Long (1909/18) The Sign Language: A Manual of Signs
  9. 9. SCOTLAND. Bring the “5” hands up in front, palms toward self, the palm of the right hand resting against the back of the left in such a way that the fingers of both hands cross at an angle representing an “X;” let the hands drop away toward the sides. Note that the fingers when thus held represent the plaid. Long 1909
  10. 10. Long 1918 SCOTLAND. Bring the “5” hands up in front, palms toward self, the palm of the right hand resting against the back of the left in such a way that the fingers of both hands cross at an angle representing an “X;” let the hands drop away toward the sides. Note that the fingers when thus held represent the plaid. SCOTLAND. (2) Place back of the extended right hand across the left arm; draw it across and then turning the hand over repeat, representing plaids on arm.
  11. 11. Long 1918 SCOTLAND. Bring the “5” hands up in front, palms toward self, the palm of the right hand resting against the back of the left in such a way that the fingers of both hands cross at an angle representing an “X;” let the hands drop away toward the sides. Note that the fingers when thus held represent the plaid. SCOTLAND. (2) Place back of the extended right hand across the left arm; draw it across and then turning the hand over repeat, representing plaids on arm.
  12. 12. Higgins (1923/42) How to talk to the deaf; the language of gestures, expression, impersonation, pantomime or acting, used by all people in all ages and everywhere
  13. 13. SCOTCH: Palms inward, open fingers crossed, hands drawn apart down to sides; or, tips of right prone spread fingers along left sleeve and then across to indicate the plaid. Higgins 1923
  14. 14. SCOTCH: Tips of right prone spread fingers along left sleeve and then across to indicate the plaid. Higgins 1942
  15. 15. SCOTLAND1 Long 1909/18 SCOTLAND2 Higgins 1923/42 SCOTLAND3 Riekehof 1963 SCOTLAND4 Humphries 1980 Evolution of SCOTLAND
  16. 16. SCOTLAND5 Fant 1983 SCOTLAND6 Smith 1989 SCOTLAND7 Valli 2006 Evolution of SCOTLAND
  17. 17. MEXICO2 Watson 1964 MEXICO1,4 Long 1909 Smith 1989 MEXICO5 Valli 2006 MEXICO3 Stokoe 1965 Evolution of MEXICO
  18. 18. Seriously, you’re a nerd. Seriously. Great, so what sign am I supposed to use now?
  19. 19. Robert Palella 2nd ASL Fest Gallaudet University (2007)
  20. 20. What do we see Deaf people doing with “newer” country signs? • Signs are not necessarily changing as a reaction to so-called ‘political correctness’ • But other countries consider ASL’s use of their indigenous sign as ‘respect;’ fosters a globalism at international conferences and sporting events
  21. 21. What do we see Deaf people doing with “newer” country signs? • Some ASL signs have been/are perceived as insulting, focused on physical characteristics • Signs are being borrowed because signs for a country may not be present in ASL • Reduces the need for fingerspelling
  22. 22. What are some of the objections to using “newer” country signs in ASL? • “We already have a sign for a country; why replace it with another (non-ASL, outsider?) sign?” • Spoken languages do not use indigenous names for other countries (do you say ‘Deutschland’ or ‘Germany,’ ‘Japan’ or ‘日本’?)
  23. 23. Potential framework for identifying valid & reliable sign variations & etymologies
  24. 24. vexillogical Sign describes a physical, symbolic, or conceptual characteristic of a nation’s flag
  25. 25. Vexillogical country signs (in Valli, 2005)
  26. 26. Vexillogical country signs (in Valli, 2005)
  27. 27. Vexillogical country signs (in Valli, 2005)
  28. 28. Vexillogical country signs (in Valli, 2005)
  29. 29. Vexillogical country signs (in Valli, 2005)
  30. 30. geographical Sign describes a physical, topographic, or geographical characteristic of a nation
  31. 31. Geographical country signs (in Valli, 2005)
  32. 32. Geographical country signs (in Valli, 2005)
  33. 33. Geographical country signs (in Valli, 2005)
  34. 34. Geographical country signs (in Valli, 2005)
  35. 35. Geographical country signs (in Valli, 2005)
  36. 36. Geographical country signs (in Valli, 2005)
  37. 37. Geographical country signs (in Valli, 2005)
  38. 38. Geographical country signs (in Valli, 2005)
  39. 39. Geographical country signs (in Valli, 2005) area features area
  40. 40. Geographical country signs (in Valli, 2005) shape geography area
  41. 41. Geographical country signs (in Valli, 2005) feature geography shape
  42. 42. ethnographical Sign describes cultural, personal, or customal characteristics of a nation or people (food, history, arts/music, clothing, animals, personal features, weather, military, transportation, linguistics, behaviors, religion, combinations)
  43. 43. transportation Ethnographic country signs (in Valli, 2005)
  44. 44. military Ethnographic country signs (in Valli, 2005)
  45. 45. animal life Ethnographic country signs (in Valli, 2005)
  46. 46. music Ethnographic country signs (in Valli, 2005)
  47. 47. history/politics Ethnographic country signs (in Valli, 2005)
  48. 48. dance Ethnographic country signs (in Valli, 2005)
  49. 49. food Ethnographic country signs (in Valli, 2005)
  50. 50. Ethnographic country signs (in Valli, 2005) music history clothing/music
  51. 51. Ethnographic country signs (in Valli, 2005) history animal personal
  52. 52. Ethnographic country signs (in Valli, 2005) weather clothingweather
  53. 53. Ethnographic country signs (in Valli, 2005) personal clothing history
  54. 54. Ethnographic country signs (in Valli, 2005) personal history
  55. 55. Ethnographic country signs (in Valli, 2005) personal personal clothing
  56. 56. Ethnographic country signs (in Valli, 2005) animals food personal
  57. 57. Ethnographic country signs (in Valli, 2005) religion personal language
  58. 58. Ethnographic country signs (in Valli, 2005) music clothing clothing
  59. 59. military animal? history Ethnographic country signs (in Valli, 2005)
  60. 60. abbreviatory Sign is pronounced by using the initials of the nation’s (English) name Ab (how valid/reliable is this? does it work only for the English name?)
  61. 61. Abbreviatory country signs (in Valli, 2005) Ab
  62. 62. Abbreviatory country signs (in Valli, 2005) Ab Smith, 1989
  63. 63. Abbreviatory country signs (in Valli, 2005) Ab
  64. 64. ? arbitrary Sign is pronounced seemingly by none of the previous characteristics (how valid/reliable is this? created in contact/for pidgins?)
  65. 65. Arbitrary country signs (in Valli, 2005) ?
  66. 66. Arbitrary country signs (in Valli, 2005) ?
  67. 67. Arbitrary country signs (in Valli, 2005) ?
  68. 68. Wow. That’s a lot of signs. Do Deaf people actually use all of these “newer” signs?
  69. 69. 149 anonymous Deaf signers participated in a two-part online survey (2010)
  70. 70. • “Given the choice between two geographic/ country signs for the same country, which do you tend to use?” (16 sign pairs) • “Given this sign, which country does it refer to (a, b, c, don't know, means something else)?” (15 signs, mixture of common and obscure) • Reasons for choosing country signs • Gender, age, deafness label, schooling
  71. 71. What’d you find out, Nerd?
  72. 72. 1. Deaf adult signers, regardless of age or schooling inconsistently use signs with which they are comfortable: • 9/16 (56%) “newer” signs were preferred • SWEDEN2 and RUSSIA2 are preferred, but not ENGLAND2 and GERMANY2 • Many pronunciation differences exist = how do accurate signs stay accurate/get passed on?
  73. 73. 2. Many recent geographical/country signs are mistaken for other similarly pronounced ASL signs: • “That sign (ENGLAND2) looks like the sign for ‘thermometer.’” • “This sign (BANGLADESH) looks like ‘don’t want.’” • ‘Cousin?’ (COLOMBIA)
  74. 74. What does this mean for interpreters?
  75. 75. Resources
  76. 76. Facebook Sign Language of the Deaf World Deaf signers rendering indigenous country and city signs
  77. 77. International Country signs spreadthesign.com Deaf signers rendering indigenous country signs in various SL
  78. 78. doug.stringham.net/uvuasl dstringham@gmail.com @stringd Thank you.

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