Sunday, March 23, 2008

Homemade Signs Can Be Funny!

Since Pennsylvania School for the Deaf banned sign language in the mid 20th Century, we the Deaf students made up our homemade signs. You may will make fun of these signs so go ahead and laugh your ass off.


Deb Ann said...


home signs are so cool

Anonymous said...

if you study ASL, you would not say those signs are homemade. They are NOT homemade signs. Theya re original!! core ASL. Enough is Enough!! now our own people said they are homemade signs. but they are really not if you study linguistics. Please read up more and find out!!

Misha said...

Oh gosh! That brings me back to memories of my oral school for the deaf. We also had lots of homemade signs, too. A few were ASL as well.
I still remember a few homemade signs. Your homemade sign for soda was the same thing we had in my oral school. LOL

Misha :D

Dianrez said...

Many of those signs I have seen but thought they were local signs, especially the one for "pregnant" in Deaf people of the inner city Baltimore and DC areas.

In my oral school when I was five years old, we used the movie sign you did, too, in Michigan! (fist to nose, cranking side of head) It would be interesting to do a study of these "home signs" and how they came about.

Barb DiGi said...

To Anon 5:08:

Whoa, take it easy with your tone! Anna Marie was just sharing her childhood experience on how her and the Deaf oral local community made up their own signs. No need to have a degree in linguistics though to declare that these signs are homemade. Heck, were you even there at that time?

Coming from the source:

"Don't you know that there is no satisfactory definition of exactly what ASL is?

Some Deaf people maintain that there can be no universally acceptable, satisfactory-to-all definition of ASL; others claim that there is (or can be). This is a subject of some controversy. Where to draw the line between what's acceptable and unacceptable ASL? Every user seems to have a different opinion!

ASL has evolved from a blend of Old French Sign Language and what's now called "Old American Sign Language," which has been traced to the "dialect" used in the communities of Chilmark and West Tisbury on Martha's Vineyard. Some sort of native sign language was being used well over a century before Laurent Clerc brought French Sign Language to the States in 1817.*

ASL, in other words, is a hybrid of FSL and an indigenous sign language. Many ASL signs were borrowed from FSL, but some have always been "American."

New signs are gradually introduced; old signs are altered or dropped."

In this case, these homemade signs were introduced but never been widely accepted or evolved in a larger Deaf society using these signs. It is unfortunate that Anna Marie as a Deaf child was discouraged from using ASL in her school and her family was ashamed to be seen signing in public. If you study PSD History, Deaf children from that era did not even use ASL. They were forbidden to use it and made up their own that these signs did not even last or were widely used in the remaining Deaf community. Therefore, it is my conclusion that we cannot say that these signs qualify as a part of ASL. So look up the history of ASL formation yourself without jumping the gun.

Anna Marie said...

Thanks everyone for sharing your comments and to Barb DiGi for your perspective. I can verify that PSD Deaf orals in my time did not use ASL but they gradually picked it up from elder Deaf former PSD students when signs were allowed at that time at school.

It was common for us to carry on true ASL signs from these elders but the remaining signs were made up (as shown in the video). These signs faded so I am not sure if it ever qualifies as a part of ASL especially that not the whole community uses it.

This is a good debate topic to be welcomed as long as we discuss it diplomatically.

Domvera said...

Hi there!

I agreed with Barbara DiGi's recent comment in perspective of lingustic approach in our childhood lives through oral school.

I am in the same boat as everyone have gone through their personal experience in oral schools. Everyone has homemade signs universally in visual communicate to rely on. Without having homemade signs or any universal language in visual, we would miss the passion of information through communications and potentially have delay in learning language. Even though, we are in the hearing family especially oral communication, therefore, the information will not provide sufficicently. Thank God for our finding ways to communicate despite of the monopolizing oralism epidemic, we are manadate to have visual communication to develop our language needs for our lives and to raise of our knowledge in passion.
Accordingly to your recent vlog, you talked yourself in sign language, your mother quickly noticed you while her driving home. As matter as fact, I do the same thing. Due to my hearing family during my early childhood in oral method, I found my time to talk myself in sign language to faciliate my communication skills and imagined if the invisible friend talked to me in many places.
At this time, my isolation talking have reduced gradually due to my partner's caught on my hiding talking myself several times. He wished me to talk with him anything. Particularly to my habit, I have to cut it off my hands in "expressional phrase." It is not easy to stop this action.
Grafefully thanks to Laurent Clerc and the people from Martha's Vineyard and Native Americans to brought their valuable language to American School for the Deaf, it evolved our lives to maintain our communication in our precious lingustic methods.

Thank you for your warming to share with our readers.

Nick Vera

LaRonda said...

That was entertaining and enjoyable. Sad, though that your mom didn't want you to sign when you were young. The creation of home signs are often a result of deaf children being forbidden to sign when they are children.

I absolutely love your sign off "ASL ROCKS!" :)

~ LaRonda

Anonymous said...

I agree with one article that your homemade signs are not homemade signs at all. I remember some Pa. signs when I attended Camp Top Rock and Camp Kirby. I learned their signs and were overwhelmed with Pa. signs.
I came from New York City area. I still use New York City signs to my kids and my family. I preserve NYC ASL signs.

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