Is American Sign Language A ‘Foreign’ Language?

1082 words - 5 pages

American Sign Language is considered a foreign language by 40 states around the United States. American Sign Language is not considered a foreign language, because a foreign language is defined by “any language used in a country other than one’s own; a language that is studied mostly for cultural insight”. By definition American Sign Language does not fit that description because, it is only used in America. American Sign Language is also not qualified as a foreign language because people say that a language must have literature for proper study when American Sign Language does not, also people have argued that American Sign Language lacks the same element of culture as other foreign language courses. But in other cases American Sign Language can be considered a foreign language in many ways just as it cannot be considered a foreign language. Some of the reasons that American Sign Language can be considered a foreign language are, American Sign Language is no less a foreign language than Navajo, which is also indigenous to the United States. One huge step towards the thought of American Sign Language being considered a foreign language is that the whole idea of language being foreign is disappearing. I believe that American Sign Language is a foreign language and should be accepted in more states and more schools around the country.
American Sign Language is not considered a foreign language for many reasons. These reasons are, it has no culture behind it, the language itself is based off of American English, the language is not used in any other countries besides the one in which it has originated, and American Sign Language has no official written form like other languages. For these reasons American Sign Language cannot be considered a language. One definition of a language is “communication by voice in the distinctively human manner, using arbitrary sounds in conventional ways with conventional meanings”. American Sign Language is dependent on movements on the hand, arms and facial expressions, the many people who sign cannot speak nor hear themselves or others making noise or speaking, foreign languages are distinctive by the accent, the different words and letters and the sentence structure. American Sign Language is only distinctive by not speaking and using motions and signs to communicate. There for American Sign Language cannot be considered as a foreign language.
American Sign Language should be considered a foreign language because even though people can argue that American Sign Language does not have any culture behind it, culture is defined by “the behaviors and beliefs characteristics of a particular social, ethnic, or age group” and the community of deaf, do behave differently than the hearing community. Some examples of this will be how hearing people will walk around or wait for people to stop a conversation before moving through that area while the deaf will walk through two people signing because in the deaf community that...

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