Sign Language: Factors Contributing to Natural Change

Ted Supalla, GeorgetownX

This course describes how we use historical data to demonstrate language change. While earliest indications suggest that the origin of a signed language began as a gestural form, it has evolved as it was handed down.

In this course, we will explore how language changes over time. We know from documentation that early ASL does not look the same as it does today. The earliest indications suggest that it originated as gesture, but that’s not what people learn today. That’s because, as it was passed down, it evolved and changed. In this course, we will look at the historical data and discuss how the language changed.

What will you learn

  • Describe how ASL looked like in its inception
  • Describe influences on the grammar of ASL by consistent contact with the English language
  • Describe syntax and morphology in early ASL
  • Describe what scholars of 19th century ASL know about ASL grammar
  • Compare trends of change along the timeline of ASL evolution

Dates:
  • 15 June 2020
Course properties:
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  • Language: English Gb

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