As the predominant language for the deaf community in the U.S., American Sign Language is used by more and more people nowadays. For those who are new to the language, here are some interesting facts about ASL you may not know.
The grammar of ASL is similar but different from that of English.
Compared to English, American Sign Language has a set of similar, but different grammar and syntax. As in English, in ASL many sentences are in the order of subject-verb-object; there’s also the passive voice in ASL, which is object-subject-verb, but somewhat different from the passive voice in English. If using the object-subject-verb, the signing is often accompanied by the raised eyebrows. This is called topicalization, and in ASL signing often goes with the facial expression to convey the full meaning of the sentences.
Deemed as a foreign language in the U.S., ASL has its own grammar and syntax, and sometimes a new learner may need to get rid of the English structure to learn the new language quickly.
Babies can start learning ASL earlier than learning a spoken language.
Though it may be too young for four-month-old babies to learn a spoken language, parents may start to teach them signing at this time. Starting from the 7th month, babies can respond by signing back. The learning process is quite similar to that of a spoken language. Starting from signing easy words, they would gradually learn complicate ones and master the grammar as they have strong coordinating and cognitive skills.
Moreover, babies are able to learn both the sign language and a spoken language at the same time. When talking with the baby using a spoken language, you may sign at the same time. From birth to 2-year-old is the best period to learn languages, and babies can master both and have two native languages!
Signing you see on online videos may not be that accurate.
Nowadays people can easily access ASL videos on video websites. However, many people do not know that not all of them in those videos can actually sign well. Some uploaders may get a great number of subscriptions for the fun contents of the video, but they could make many mistakes in signing in those videos. This can be quite misleading for new ASL learners, and most of the time they can’t realize that they actually learn the wrong signing of those videos.
If you are serious about learning ASL, try to register for an ASL course or find someone who you know can sign well. There are many times on the media people using ASL cannot sign well. It would be upsetting if you find that what you learn from online videos is actually incorrect and you need to learn another set of signing.
There are tools for you to learn ASL.
Although I recommend people interested in ASL to take formal classes, it’s understandable not all the people learn ASL as their primary language, or for becoming an ASL interpreter. If you want to learn ASL while not investing too much time and money in it, currently there are many Apps helping you to learn ASL. In some Apps, there are slow motion to ensure that you can capture the details of every signing. In some other Apps, there is interactive video quiz to help you review what you have learned. No matter you are new to ASL and want to learn its alphabet, or you want to learn ASL for the conversation on a specific occasion, there would be a right one for you. You may find a list of popular ASL Apps here.