ASL – American Sign Language

Statistically, those who learn some sign language tend to learn foreign languages faster. Why? Who knows? Is it possible that there is a false statistical correlation because linguists, language polyglots, and people who are more intellectually curious learn to sign in addition to other languages? Sure. Is possible that signing helps to visualize language concepts? Makes sense to me. Whether the statistic is pointing out a valid cause and effect or not, I’m going to learn a little sign language to help me with my German and Spanish.

I’ve already learned a little and what I’ve seen so far is interesting. I’m finding out interesting little bits like the fact that ASL (American Sign Language) has its own grammar. This makes a lot of sense. The ASL is a big clue to the next little gem, different sign languages exist in different countries/social groups. Who would of thought that the British (BSL) and the United States (ASL) use different signs? BSL also has a great deal of regional variation! The whole ASL thing is an interesting puzzle with lots of interesting pieces.

I’ve already started talking with people about ASL and I am learning that there a a LOT of people who have some signing ability! Once you start to learn the basics of ASL, you start finding new facets of people you thought you knew.

With an estimated 16 million deaf people in the United States and adding 4,000 to 5,000 deaf babies each year, this is a very useful language to learn. Those numbers come from the American Sign Language Dictionary Unabridged, 2008 edition by Elaine Costello, PhD. If you also factor in the Americans with Disabilities Act, you have an even more useful language.

My original goal of using ASL to help with my foreign languages may provide far more learning opportunities than I had hoped for. This is going to be a fun ride!