View Our Catalog

Join Our E-Mail List

What's New

Sign Language Studies

American Annals of the Deaf

Press Home

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

Previous Page

Next Page


A six-year project on sociolinguistic variation in ASL. (June 1, 1994–July 31, 2000)

Overview of Data Collection:

Sites Visited:

1.   Staunton, Va.
2.   Frederick, Md.
3.   Boston, Mass.
4.   New Orleans, La.
5.   Fremont, Calif.
6.   Kansas City, Mo.
7.   Bellingham, Wash.

Twelve groups at each site, except for Virginia, Maryland, and Washington (only Caucasian groups)

 

African American Groups:

 

Caucasian Groups:

Middle Class

Working Class

 

Middle Class

Working Class

15–25

15–25  

15–25

15–25

26–54

26–54  

26–54

26–54

55+

55+  

55+

55+

 A total of 207 ASL signers (Each group consisted of 2–6 signers)

Overall Goal of the Project:

A description of phonological, morphosyntactic, and lexical variation in ASL and the correlation of variation with external factors such as age, region, gender, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status.

            Figure 9. The project at a glance

DEAF

In ASL, the sign deaf can be signed from the ear to the chin and also from the chin to the ear, as we mentioned earlier. In the course of our analysis, however, we discovered a third form of deaf, in which the index finger does not move down or up but simply contacts the lower cheek. These are all illustrated in Figure 10. The form of deaf that goes from ear to chin is called the citation form. This is the form that is usually found in sign language dictionaries and taught in sign language classes. The chin-to-ear and contact-cheek forms are known as noncitation forms. that is, they differ from the dictionary form in one or more respects.


Previous Page

Next Page