ASLpah.com | Volume 1, Issue
45, April 2007 | William G. Vicars Ed.D., Editor
In a message dated 3/9/2007 9:15:18 A.M. Pacific Standard Time,
I am doing a ASL 1 project. For my project i am doing a song
Hound dog" by Elvis Presley i looked on many different websites for the
"hound" i can't find it anywhere my teacher says i just have to
it. i was hoping if you would know the sign if it even exists. looking
forward to hearing back from you.
The word "hound" means to track or to hunt. A hound dog is a tracking or
Thus you could use either "chase" or "hunt" in place of "hound" in your
In a message dated 3/15/2007 12:11:49 PM Pacific Daylight Time, lily9326@ writes:
My name is Ashley and I am a mother of a 6 month old. I took a few years of sign language and I want to start
teaching her some. My plan is to sign many of the things I say to her. One of the things I do is say her name a lot,
Sophie, so she learns to associate herself with her name. However, she does not have a name sign and I know as a
hearing person I am not allowed to give her one. I prefer not to have to spell her name out every time and I also
prefer not to just point to her, since I use that when I say "you". I want her to be able to distinguish between
"Sophie" and "you/me." Do you have any suggestions as to how to go about this? Thank you for your help.
For starters you could just twist an "s" on the cheek and use that for her name sign.
Then later when you make a deaf friend ask that person if they think the "S" on the cheek is a good match for your daughter
and doesn't conflict with any local names. If there is a conflict, then ask your new deaf friend for a better suggestion.
In a message dated 3/12/2007 8:20:48 A.M. Pacific Daylight
Time, KennedyL@ writes:
our high school, we are using your ASL online lessons
and disk to facilitate and Independent Study ASL course.
I am the teacher who is proctoring the coursework. I
have a question regarding the Quiz for lesson 9.
The answer for question #189 is given as two questions
or a two fold question. (Do you have a garage? And if
so, how many cars does it hold?)
I have a student who has responded with: How many cars
does your garage hold?
I have corrected the students response as wrong based on
general linguistic principles. However, she continues
to argue the point that her response is the same as the
key answer, according to ASL linguistic rules. Could
you shed some light on this? Is the student correct?
Based on English semantics it would not be correct.
However, are the semantics different with ASL?
Paul Conservatory for Performing Artists
The question at hand is:
GARAGE HAVE? CL:3-(vehicle, "park")++ HOW-MANY CAN? (Do you
have a garage? --if so-- How many cars will it fit?)
The student's interpretation was: How many cars does your
As an instructor correcting the student's test, the
overriding issue here is, "Did the student understand what
was being signed?" Which is to say, did the student
understand the signs:
CL:3 - ("parked car")
Did the student also understand the overall intent of the
question as wanting to know how many cars can fit in the
Now, under the "strictest" interpretation of that sentence
it is a fact that I sought two pieces of information: Does
the listener have a garage? How many cars does that garage
In linguistics we move from phonology to morphology to
syntax to semantics and then to pragmatics. Pragmatics, in
this case, referring to the situational context within which
sentence is expressed. Pragmatics also involves taking a
look at the knowledge and beliefs of the speaker and the
relation between speaker and listener.
Let's consider two different circumstances:
Situation 1: Testing environment: The sentence is
expressed as an isolated language sample in a
non-conversational setting to a group of students.
Situation 2: Real life conversation between two
In the first situation (during a test) there is no
opportunity for participation of the listener in the
construction of meaning during the "GARAGE HAVE" portion of
In the second situation (during a conversation) the listener
would actively participate in the construction of meaning by
either nodding or shaking their head. The listener could
technically shake their head "no" and the speaker would need
to abandon the rest of the question because it would not
Thus it is can be argued that while the semantics in each
sentence of each situation are the same, the pragmatics are
So, if it can be "argued," then what is
The student could argue that the "GARAGE HAVE" portion of
the sentence is used to establish whether the listener owns
or possesses a garage.
The student could then argue that the "your garage" portion
of her answer corresponds to the "HAVE GARAGE" portion of
the question since "your" and "HAVE" are both used
to indicate possession of the garage.
It would be tempting to assert that YOUR and HAVE are two
different signs, (which they are), but again, we are talking
about pragmatics (overall meaning) not morphology (the
meanings of individual units).
In everyday ASL usage, it is common (but not required) to
establish a topic through a process of "topicalization," and
then to make a comment or ask a question about that topic.
So, bottom line? It could go either way. As an instructor
you have to ask yourself, is this a good student? Did she
get most of the other sentences correct? Did she answer
correctly at least one other sentence which used the sign
"HAVE?" Do you feel that she doesn't know the sign for
"HAVE?" Did she omit the first part of the answer because
she did not understand the signs or did she
instead interpret the question the way she did because she
was choosing a casual (yet basically correct)
interpretation? Also, was the concept covered carefully
during a classroom lesson? Expectations for the precision
of answers be to questions about a particular concept should
be directly correlated to the amount of time spent in class
emphasizing that concept.
And finally, something for you to consider when students
come up to "argue" with you: "Will it really matter?"
In terms of grading, will the loss or addition of this "one"
point or set of points affect the student's grade at the end
of the semester? You can head off a lot of arguments by
simply reassuring a student that at the end of the semester
if she is "one point" away from getting her "A" that she is
welcome to remind you of this "borderline" question and you
will give it to her.
For what it is worth, I personally would have given it to
the student. I showed it to my wife (who also teaches
ASL) and she indicated that she would give it to the student
In a message dated 3/12/2007 9:31:59 A.M. Pacific Daylight
Time, an interpreter asks:
How would you interpret: "You weren't even
a gleam in your parents eye yet."
There are two aspects to this interpretation:
1. The meaning
2. The metaphor
The general meaning is easy enough to interpret:
YOU NOT-YET BORN.
BEFORE-(prior to version) YOU BORN
An even more general interpretation would be: HAPPEN LONG-AGO.
As interpreters though, we mourn the loss of the metaphor. We know it is
there. We know it has impact, adds interest, and carries meaning. But we
know it only carries meaning if the recipient has enough of a cognitive base
to understand the metaphor.
We human beings are "pattern recognizing" animals.
We survive because we have the ability to recognize patterns and relate them
to previously acquired information. We see an impression in the mud and
recognize it as the pattern of a tiger's paw and relate that to the same
patterns we saw on the ground last week after a tiger carried away our uncle
Fred (Flintstone). In recognizing the pattern and relating it to previously
acquired information we have that "aha!" moment where "meaning" is achieved.
Thus those who are good at recognizing patterns survive. Those who are not
good at recognizing patterns get carried away by tigers and thus the gene
pool gravitates inexorably toward offspring who enjoy looking for and
Recognition literally means to "again cognize" which means to perceive or
become conscious of something that we have previously perceived or become
If we have not previously perceived something we cannot "recognize it." We
cannot have that aha moment because there is nothing to which it can be
attached. The information is simply an "uh huh" or an "oh" but it is
incapable of causing an "aha!"
Humans, (particularly young children) enjoy doing "connect the dots" puzzles
because of the "aha" principle of pattern recognition.
We start with a picture of a rabbit and then we make it abstract. We
represent it as a series of dots. The dots are an abstraction of the
picture of the rabbit. Children (and adults) enjoy moving from the abstract
to the concrete.
Metaphors are abstractions. We start with a meaning and then we distort it
into a different but related (recognizable) pattern.
We enjoy metaphors because they are just ambiguous enough that if we think
about them for a moment we will be able to relate them to previously
perceived information and think "Aha! I get it. What that means is..."
The challenge facing interpreters is that when presented with a metaphor we
end up "doing what we can within the time available to us" because we are
seldom granted enough time to "connect the dots" for our clients."
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Monday, March 12, 2007 7:24 PM
Subject: Re: ASL University
In a message dated 3/12/2007 2:17:55 P.M. Pacific Daylight
What a fascinating website!
I've been teaching ASL, continuing education, for nearly
15 years. For a few years before that, I freelance
I am entering the world of "high-school instruction" and
was looking into your program. You mention a 3 credit
college course, or ASL 1 being equivalent to a 1
semester High School Course. Your lessons/quizzes, etc.,
make it a no-brainer for an instructor. With the
additional use of video, games, receptive and expressive
practice, you have done all the work.
My question, to sum up, is the ASL1 and ASL2 program
appropriate for high school, in class, instruction?
Absolutely. ASL 1 and 2 at ASLU is indeed appropriate for High
School. It also works well for home schooling.
Feel free to use the curriculum in your high school courses and
if you develop any materials based on the ASLU curriculum you
are welcome to forward them to me for (possible) inclusion in
the curriculum or posting as "additional resources."
(Dr. V of Lifeprint.com)
In a message dated 3/13/2007 3:53:33 A.M. Pacific Daylight Time,
Good Morning Bill!
I truly appreciate your speedy email. I never expected such
a quick response from such a busy person.
I would like to ask your opinion on this situation. Your
opinion, and that of other ASL Instructors, matter deeply to
I attended college in 1994 and received my AS in Business,
and then went on to my certificate in Deaf Studies. I
completed all but one course; the program was dropped.
I then immersed myself in Deaf Culture, Deaf Clubs,
interpreting for friends everywhere, I lived and breathed
sign. I did this for 5 years.
I then slowed way down to get married, have a family, etc. I
stayed in touch with a few friends, one of which was
teaching continuing ed at a vocational school. I attended
with her for 2 years, soaking it all in, and then took the
job upon myself. My circle of friends truly felt I was
ready to; and I did too.
This is now nearly 15 years ago. I am extremely comfortable
teaching my 20 hour course at continuing ed. I introduce ASL
and inform them of SEE, Total Communication, etc. I inform
them of Deaf Culture; having had so many friends living that
way it is easy to retract those years. I cut out articles in
papers and magazines and we "debate" cochlear implants, a
hearing president at Galludet, etc. I bring games, fun, and
I truly feel I am great at that. I stress upon facial
expression and give practice time at the end of each class
to build upon receptive skills.
However, here is where my indecision lies: I am not immersed
in Deaf Culture right now. I have not signed daily with Deaf
people in years. I occasionally run into a signing person at
the vocational school, but in all honesty, it is no more
than 5-10 times a year. When I do sign, I am comfortable,
and simply ask the signer to slow down if I feel I need them
to. There are parts of ASL I have never taught because of
continuing ed time constraints. There are signs I do not
know and I am very open about this - we'll learn together.
There are many English words I do not know either! I did log
onto the ASLTA site and I have to be honest, the provisional
scares me. I have not signed fluently for 5 years. I can
easily prepare a syllabus and lesson plan, however.
Your lesson plans for ASL 1 and 2 didn't frighten me..there
are signs I need to brush up on. At this particular High
School, I do not need to be a certified teacher. I have the
Superintendent, my hearing frieds, my students, and the
teachers in the building (because I substitute daily in the
elementary school) all telling me I can do this. However,
you and I both know that a hearing person without any
knowledge of ASL thinks the language intriguing from the
alphabet on; it is much more than that. This class has never
been offered in this school district so it is appealing to
all. I could do a terrible job and no one would be the wiser
- but me.
Am I doing a disservice to these kids knowing that my
receptive skills are NOT up to par? Knowing also, this is
an introductory class that is in no way preparing them to be
an interpreter or teacher. Am I misrepresenting those
instructors/teachers/presenters that are currently signing
daily, immersed in Deaf Culture, and doing a heck of a great
I'm so sorry to lie all of this on you. I'm truly looking
for an honest opinion, not a sugar-coated one.
In one hand, I know my limitations. However, I am able to
pick up any resource book/video, study it over the summer
to refresh for September. I also know that I do not have a
tremendous amount of self-confidence and am scared to death
to try this for a year; I'm afraid to push myself and make a
Awaiting your reply,
You asked my opinion regarding if you'd be doing a disservice to
the students at your school by accepting a position teaching
them an introductory ASL class.
You participated in a Deaf Studies program. You "lived and
breathed" sign language and immersed yourself in Deaf Culture
for 5 years. You have freelance interpreting experience. You
have taught a continuing education ASL course for 15 years. You
used to have a number of Deaf friends. You currently interact
with Deaf people 10 to 15 times a year. You have a collection of
Deaf-related news articles ready to share. You use games and
know how to make your class fun. And to top all that off you are
humble, self-aware, and concerned about doing a good job!
It is clear to me that you will do a wonderful job as a
high-school ASL instructor.
I'm sure this next bit of advice is not news, but I'll mention
it for emphasis: As you prepare to take on this new assignment
it will be helpful for you to "re-immerse" yourself into the
culture and develop at least a few strong connections to your
local Deaf community. For example, pick a few Deaf events in
your area and attend them regularly. Make sure to stick around
socialize afterward. Develop a few Deaf contacts that you can
ask for feedback on your signing.
Have fun and enjoy your new position!
(Dr. Vicars of Lifeprint.com)
American Sign Language University ™
Lifeprint.com © William Vicars