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Inner circle
La Famiglia
1195 Posts

Profile of LobowolfXXX
I noticed under Food for Thought that we had some deaf Café members (Ron Jaxon, Kyle Peron...) contributing to a thread that Jaxon had started, and I was wondering if anyone had any thoughts on ASL vs. SEE (Signing Exact English).
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Inner circle
Southern U.S.A.
3723 Posts

Profile of Stevethomas
You can PM Café member Margarette as well. She just finished her certification as a sign language interpreter.

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Inner circle
Kalamazoo, Mi.
2537 Posts

Profile of Jaxon
I'll be honest when I say that I don't have much experience with SEE (Signing Exact English). The reason for this is if I used it my hands would be so tired from talking and signed every word. This is the reason ASL is so widely used in the USA as the primary deaf sign language. I do know that quite often SEE is taught to children (OR sign English as I know it). It's also quite common by those who were late deaf like I am (Meaning I didn't becomes deaf till later and learned to speak orally before signing). This use to cause me to mistakes. For example I would always sign the work "like" the same. But they have different meanings such as "I like you" or "It looks like". So I use sign "Looks like" the same way I'd say, "I like you". Which is incorrect in ASL. For it's an entirely different language and it's not about sound, it's about meaning.

Another angle I see this is that the English language waists so many words. For example "I'm going to the store." sentence. It's no problem to say that with speech but with your hands it's much easier to say, "I go store." or "Store go I" or even "Store I go".

Another example: "I'm looking or my hat". In exact sign language I would have to make signing hand shapes and actions for the fallowing.


Notice even the "ing" is a separate hand shape. Without the ing hand shape it would say "I am look for hat". Also the I'm is now two words. "I am". It's just a lot of waisted action for a real conversation.

Compare to: "Hat were is?"

This may seem like improper English when you read it but when in conjunction with body language and facial expressions it really shows the entire meaning.

Just my thoughts on it. Let's see what the others have to say. I know there are some on here that are not deaf but are interpreters. In all honesty they'd probably know more about it then I do even though I'm deaf. Because I didn't go learning about it. I just had to learn enough to get by after I lost my hearing. I never went to any kind of special classes or lived in a deaf culture. Some like me who are late deaf called their situation "Being between worlds". For we're a minority in the hearing world but were never part of the deaf culture.

Ron Jaxon

After regaining my ability to hear after 20 years of deafness. I learned that there is magic all around you. The simplest sounds that amazed me you probably ignore. Look and listen around you right now. You'll find something you didn't notice before.
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Eternal Order
Philadelphia, PA
15111 Posts

Profile of magic4u02
Greta stuff Ron. I am alos late deaf as well. I am learning ASL but very slowly and I really have only just begun. The reaosn is that I learned to auomatically read lips as a way to comepnsate for my hearing loss when I was a child. I was not until my 20's that I actually got tested and finally got hearing aids to help assist me. All this time my body and myself learned to adapt in such away that I could exist and get by. This meant the ability to read lips very well and I still use that primarily today.

I do finger spell and I knoew a few things in ASL and I am working to learn even more. I do not get a chance to sign much but there is another gentlemen (also in the recent book (Silent magic by Simon Carmel) named Morton Feldman and I get to sign with him at our meetings so that has been a help.

However he signs the way Ron is explaining and I do understand it. It is just too long and tiring for the hands to spell out full english so you spell out the words that are important to the meaning you are trying to express.

Kyle Peron

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Special user
Memphis area
956 Posts

Profile of Margarette
Thanks Steve! Best get me while the info is still in an easily accessible part of my brain!!!

Little background information here:

American Sign Language, or ASL, is considered by linguists to be a foreign language just as Spanish, French, and German are considered foreign languages. It has its own grammatical structure and is not just "pantomime and gestures" as originally thought. It is a visual and conceptual language. It is the language of the Deaf. Its roots are not in English...or even British Sign Language. American Sign Language has its roots in French Sign Language, and the signed language used by the Deaf residents around Martha's Vineyard. Thomas Gallaudet traveled to Europe in an effort to learn a way to educate those who were unable to hear. Until Thomas Gallaudet's efforts, there were two people could send their deaf child to Scotland to be educated or hire a private tutor to teach the child to speak, read, and write, or, poor people could either keep the child at home or send him/her to an asylum, which in either case, no education was involved. Gallaudet persuaded Laurent Clerc, a student of the Abbe Sicard, to come back to the United States with him. During the trip back, Clerc taught Gallaudet FSL, and Gallaudet taught Clerc spoken English. The first school for the deaf in the United States opened in 1817.

Signing Exact English, or SEE, is what it says. It is the signing of each word that is spoken in the order in which they are spoken...including prefixes and suffixes with words (I earned some extra credit for signing in SEE II 'antidisestablismentarianism'). SEE was developed as a way to teach those who had ASL as their only language the English language.

If one were to read the writing of someone who is Deaf, the sentence structure and grammar of the writing would be incorrect. However, it is accurate to say that a measure of a deaf person's intelligence should NOT be measured by his/her writing abilities. Unfortunately, a hearing person will automatically "judge" the intelligence level of someone by their writing abilities. How often do we read someone's writing, and if it is full of misspellings, do we think "he/she must not have graduated high school...." or something like that. The writing ability of those who use ASL was seen as a detriment to their professional advancement. So, SEE was developed as a way to teach English grammar and sentence structure to those who had ASL as their first language. It was the "English class".

Now, most hearing people do not use ASL nor do they use SEE as their way to communicate with those who use signed languages. What hearing people have a tendency to use is what is known as Contact Sign Language. This was formerly known as Pidgin Sign Language. Contact Sign uses ASL signs in an English format. For example: If one were to sign in ASL, "I am going to the store", the ASL signs would be "STORE GO-TO ME" (three signs). The same sentence in SEE would be "I AM GO ING TO THE STORE" (seven signs). In Contact Sign, it would be "I GO-TO STORE" (three signs).

With my interpreter training, there are a couple of different can be an "interpreter" or one can be a "transliterator." The interpreter will take spoken English, and put it in ASL, and vice versa. The transliterator will take spoken English and more than likely, use the Contact Sign Language...the ASL signs in the English format. The interpreter/transliterator will adapt to the audience preference.

Now, as for my preference of ASL over SEE, my experience with SEE is that it is very tedious and time consuming. I have to make sure that every single prefix, suffix, and every grammatical part of the sentence is signed...and that the root word is signed properly (BOX signed with a 'B', ROOM signed with an 'r' even though the movement of the sign is the same). My experience with ASL has been the same as when I learned Spanish. Learning a foreign language is difficult, but not impossible. It just depends on how dedicated I am to the effort. Can I sign in ASL? Yes. Can I sign in SEE? Yes. Which do I use? Contact Sign.

Okay, I've probably shared more than you really wanted to know about ASL and SEE. Feel free to ignore all but when I say which I prefer.

The only stupid question is the one not asked.
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Inner circle
Southwestern Southeast
3999 Posts

Profile of ClintonMagus
I know that signing in a foreign language is different than ASL, but is it COMPLETELY different, or is it at all similar? This has always seemed like a great start to overcoming language differences.
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Special user
Memphis area
956 Posts

Profile of Margarette
Just as there are different (foreign) spoken languages, there are different (foreign) signed languages. I could not go to England and expect a deaf person in England who was taught British Sign Language to understand me who was taught American Sign Language. As with all languages, there are some similar words in the various languages. I know there are more signed languages than this, but I am aware of sign languages in French, British, Spanish, Korean, Russian, Dutch, and Australian.

A common misconception among the hearing is that sign language is universal. I was having lunch with some coworkers a while back, and one noticed there was a couple involved in a conversation, and the two were using sign language. One coworker asked the table "I've always that sign language stuff the same all over the world?" Another coworker, who admitted that he didn't even know the fingerspell alphabet, quickly jumped in and said, "of course it is!" I quickly corrected his statement, and did what I have a feeling I'm doing here...shared more information than anyone wanted to know!

There is something that exists called "Gestuno", I believe the name is. What this is is an attempt to have some "universal" signs so that when there are worldwide deaf conferences, people would be able to say basic phrases to each other without the need of a foreign sign language interpreter. This would be like making the phrase "where is the bathroom" into a universally spoken phrase.

The only stupid question is the one not asked.
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