Is Sign Language A Foreign Language?

676 words - 3 pages

American Sign Language has grown to become a popular outlet to fill the gap between hearing and deaf communication. Because of this, many schools, colleges, and universities teach the language to their students. However, the debate is whether it should be considered a foreign language and count for a foreign language credit. Although there are several kinds of sign languages, ASL is controversial because it is indigenous to the area like Navajo, the Native American language that was present here before Europeans settled in the U.S.
When arguing in favor for ASL to count as a foreign language, one could say that sign language itself wasn’t necessarily originated in America. In fact, French sign language came about long before American Sign Language did. This means that the origin of the language wasn’t located in the U.S., causing it to possibly be considered foreign. The word foreign can be interpreted with various levels of literality, changing the way the language is viewed. Signing is different from other means of communication in that it is non-verbal. In effect, it can’t necessarily be looked at in the same context as a verbal-auditory language.
Because of the issue, many schools have accepted the language for credit. People could argue that if some schools accept it, all should, otherwise it isn’t giving students a fair opportunity in their academic pursuit. In fact, some schools have changed the name of their requirements and courses. Instead of labeling it a foreign language, the title was changed to either world language, or classical/modern language.
Also, culture plays a main role in the determination of the categorization of ASL. Some officials say that sign language isn’t sufficient to sustain a culture. However, they fail to realize that sign has a culture all its own with different tendencies and norms just like any other language. ASL is big on the sharing of information. What in English we may think would be an inappropriate question, or...

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