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American Annals of the Deaf

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Sign Language Archaeology
Understanding the Historical Roots of American Sign Language

Ted Supalla and
Patricia Clark

February 2015

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  $70.00s print edition
$70.00 e-book

From ProtoView (formerly Reference & Research Book News)

This volume documents the history and development of American Sign Language (ASL). It describes its roots in French Sign Language and draws on films produced by the National Association of the Deaf (NAD) between 1910 and 1920 and early sign language dictionaries to illustrate the transformation of early ASL into modern ASL. It details the language plan created by NAD leaders to preserve the original form of signing that reflected the sign language of the founders; the biographies of each sign master and their contributions to the films; the lexicon and morphology of early ASL; the history of dactylology and its role and influence in the morphological system and the loan-sign and name-sign systems; and the historical context for the grammar of early ASL. It documents the literary legacy of the deaf American voice, discussing the literary skills of sign masters in public oratory and at banquets; the use of sign language at the beginning of the Dark Period; folk vs. scientific etymology in the history of ASL; the evolution of morphological processes in ASL; and the varieties of ASL that disappeared or survived the Dark Period and their impact today.

Ted Supalla is a professor in the Department of Neurology at Georgetown University.

Patricia Clark is a certified ASL/English interpreter and an adjunct faculty member in the Program in American Sign Language at the University of Rochester.

Print Edition: ISBN 978-1-56368-493-7, 6 x 9 casebound, 278 pages, 11 tables, 88 figures


E-Book: ISBN 978-1-56368-494-4


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