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Sign Language Studies

American Annals of the Deaf

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What’s Your Sign for Pizza?
An Introduction to Variation in American Sign Language

Ceil Lucas, Robert Bayley,
and Clayton Valli

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This introductory text celebrates another dimension of diversity in the United States Deaf community — variation in the way American Sign Language (ASL) is used by Deaf people all across the nation. The different ways people have of saying or signing the same thing defines variation in language. In spoken English, some people say “soda,” others say “pop,” “Coke,” or “soft drink;” in ASL, there are many signs for “birthday,” “Halloween,” “early,” and of course, “pizza.”

What’s Your Sign for Pizza derives from an extensive seven-year research project in which more than 200 Deaf ASL users representing different ages, genders and ethnic groups from seven different regions were videotaped sharing their signs for everyday vocabulary. This useful text and its accompanying CD begins with an explanation of the basic concepts of language and the structure of sign language, since sign variation abides by the rules governing all human languages. Each part of the text concludes with questions for discussion, and the final section offers three supplemental readings that provide further information on variation in both spoken and signed languages. What’s Your Sign for Pizza also briefly sketches the development of ASL, which explains the relationships between language varieties throughout the country.

Ceil Lucas is Professor, Department of Linguistics, Gallaudet University, Washington, DC.

Robert Bayley is Professor, Department of Linguistics, University of California, Davis, CA.

Clayton Valli was Assistant Professor, Master’s Interpreting Program, Gallaudet University, Washington, DC.

ISBN 978-1-56368-144-8, 6 x 9 casebound, 200 pages, 15 tables, 18 figures, CD, references, index

$49.95s

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