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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

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We see from this that, as in spoken languages, ASL has patterned phonological variation that correlates with social factors. Some of these social factors, such as age and language background, behave uniquely in the Deaf community.

Discussion Questions

1. List as many signs as you can that show variation in handshape, location, palm orientation, or movement.

2. List other social factors that you think may play a role in variation in ASL and discuss their role.

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