Gallaudet University Press

5:9 Tuesday, September 30, 2003

A World of Language Diversity

Variation in American Sign Language
Across the United States

Just as hearing people have a variety of ways for saying the same thing, Deaf people  have may ways of signing the same thing. In spoken English, for example, some people say sofa,” while others say couch” or davenport”; some people say bubbler” whereas others say water fountain.” In American Sign Language (ASL), Deaf people use different signs for know, yesterday, and deaf. What’s Your Sign for Pizza? An Introduction to Variation in American Sign Language by Ceil Lucas, Robert Bayley, and Clayton Valli explores the different kinds of variation in ASL in the United States Deaf community.

This introductory text is based on a comprehensive research project that lasted seven years and includes signs from more than 200 Deaf ASL users representing different ages, genders and ethnic groups from seven different regions across the country. Read chapter four, Phonological Variation, for a closer look at alternative ways of signing the same thing and order What’s Your Sign for Pizza? at a special savings of 20% off.

Discover a global perspective on variation in signed languages among Deaf communities in Many Ways to Be Deaf: International Variation in Deaf Communities edited by Leila Monaghan, Constanze Schmaling, Karen Nakamura, and Graham H. Turner. In Many Ways to Be Deaf, twenty-four international scholars write about signed languages used in countries all around the world, including Austria, Japan, Brazil, Viet Nam, Sweden, Nigeria, Ireland, Nicaragua, and many more. The Midwest Book Review singles out this volume in a recent issue stating, “An exhaustively researched and critically insightful resource, Many Ways to Be Deaf is an impressive work of scholarship and a ground breaking contribution to Deaf Studies reference collections and supplemental reading lists.” Read the full review along with chapter twelve, The Chiying School of Taiwan: A Foreigners Perspective, and order Many Ways to Be Deaf.

Language in Society published a glowing review of Sociolinguistic Variation in American Sign Language, the seventh volume in the Sociolinguistics in Deaf Communities series  exclaiming, It has been a pleasure to review a book so clear in purpose and successful in execution. This book demonstrates the advantages of carefully planned collaborative teamwork, drawing upon a vast range of expertise and experience, all the while modeling explicit methodology and theory for sociolinguistic analysis and exploration.” The reviewer goes on to say ...I strongly recommend this book for graduate and upper-division courses in sociolinguistic variation, especially courses in which the study of sign languages is included. I also recommend it to anyone interested in sociolinguistic variation, or the interplay between linguistic theory and pedagogy. You can read the complete review here. Also, read chapter one, Sociolinguistic Variation and Sign Languages: A Framework for Research, and order your copy.

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