Cool facts about ASL (which is used in NGR):
1. ASL is not related to English!!
2. ASL is a manual language that relies on movement rather than sound to denote meaning
3. It grew out of French Sign Language in the early1800's.
4.Though deaf people and communities have been using sign languages for a long time, ASL was formally born at the American School for the Deaf in 1817.
5. Thomas Hopkins was inspired by his neighbor's deaf child so Gallaudet went to France to learn how to educate deaf children. At the Royal Institution for the Deaf in Paris, he studied methods teaching sign language to children with Abbe Sicard. However, Gallaudet was not able to finish his studies before he had to return to the United States, and he asked that Laurent Clerc, a deaf teacher at the Institution, come back to the States with him. Clerc agreed, and the two men went on to found the American School for the Deaf in Connecticut.
6. Because of Clerc’s French background, ASL was heavily influenced by French sign language, as well as by the sign languages that were being used in America at the time, particularly that of the large deaf community on Martha’s Vineyard. (The professor who part -supervised my master degree thesis- Prof. Nora Groce carried out her research in that community and subsequently published a book on it)
7. Just as British English changed as it came to the United States, so did French Sign Language adapt to its new environment.
8. British sign language is very different than ASL.
9. ASL has continued to evolve and the vocabulary has expanded to include new words like Internet and video blog.
10. Like any spoken language, ASL has a unique sentence structure and symbols for different words and ideas.
11. ASL is not like Charades, a simple pantomime of meaning.
12. Many signs are impossible for a non-ASL user to understand, just as a spoken language sounds meaningless to someone who does not speak it.
13. The central features of ASL are hand shape, palm orientation, hand movement, and hand location, in addition to gestural features like facial expression and body posture.
14. Raising your eyebrows or pursing your lips can create emphasis.
15. In the 1960s, linguist William Stokoe, a professor at Gallaudet University, proved that ASL was its own independent language because it had its own syntax, grammar and morphology like other spoken languages!
Adapted from the dictionary.com website