SASL Journal Vol. 1, No. 1 - Page 56

ASL Literature Byrne
American Sign Language Literature : Some Considerations for Legitimacy and Quality Issues
Andrew P . J . Byrne Framingham State University
Abstract
American Sign Language ( ASL ) literature is a recent phenomenon in the American and Canadian academic landscape and constitutes an important component for the field of ASL and Deaf Studies . There are a number of pressing issues that have not been addressed until now . These include : how to respond to the status of ASL as a non-written language , various definitions for ASL literature , a large number of literary works translated from English to ASL , and the confusion associated with some works being produced by the deaf community as opposed to those by individual performers . This paper represents an attempt to address these issues . The four main objectives of this paper are : ( 1 ) to validate the relationship between oral literature and ASL literature ; ( 2 ) to provide a comprehensive definition for ASL literature ; ( 3 ) to promote the value of originality as compared to translation ; and ( 4 ) to create a taxonomy of ASL literary genres . Substantial information and some research data is presented which comes from the author ’ s doctoral dissertation , completed in 2013 . A comprehensive definition of ASL literature is expected to help maintain the legitimacy and quality of the literary language of the deaf community . The author has been involved in the creation of a collection of ASL literary works , which provides a much-needed basis for research and scholarship . The general knowledge of ASL literature through the familiarity with works listed in the collection will help create a canon of ASL literature .
Introduction
At present , American Sign Language ( ASL ) enjoys popularity as a language to study . The Modern Language Association reported that student enrollment in signed language coursework is growing much faster than other languages in the American higher education setting ( Furman , Goldberg , & Lusin , 2010 ; Goldberg , Looney , & Lusin , 2015 ; McQuillan , 2012 ). The inclusion of literature in any language study is important , and ASL should not be treated as an exception to the rule . ASL literature provides students with keen insights on the people who use signed language . Deaf people in the United States and parts of Canada are the primary users of ASL . They have formed and maintain a community that shares features of ethnic communities ( Lane , Pillard , & Hedberg , 2011 ). ASL has played a central role in how deaf people have become a linguistic and cultural minority in the context of society ( Ladd , 2003 ; Lane , Hoffmeister , & Bahan , 1996 ; Padden , 1980 ; Padden & Humphries , 1988 ; Stokoe , 1980 ; Wilcox , 1989 ).
ASL can be seen as a latecomer to academia when it comes to how languages are traditionally taught ( i . e ., spoken and written ). It was during the 1970s and 1980s that ASL started receiving recognition as an independent and full-fledged human language possessing a linguistic structure comprised of its own phonology , morphology , and syntax ( Sandler & Lillo-Martin , 2006 ; Valli , Lucas , Mulrooney , & Villanueva , 2011 ). What is known as deaf culture further justifies the teaching of ASL as a foreign language in American and Canadian colleges and universities . There are several curricula for teaching ASL that are available for purchase ( e . g ., Humphries & Padden , 2004 ; Smith , Lentz , & Mikos , 2008 ; Zinza , 2006 ). The fact that ASL has no writing system has
SASLJ , Vol . 1 , No . 1 – Fall / Winter 2017 56
ASL Literature Byrne American Sign Language Literature: Some Considerations for Legitimacy and Quality Issues Andrew P. J. Byrne Framingham State University Abstract American Sign Language (ASL) literature is a recent phenomenon in the American and Canadian academic landscape and constitutes an important component for the field of ASL and Deaf Studies. There are a number of pressing issues that have not been addressed until now. These include: how to respond to the status of ASL as a non-written language, various definitions for ASL literature, a large number of literary works translated from English to ASL, and the confusion associated with some works being produced by the deaf community as opposed to those by individual performers. This paper represents an attempt to address these issues. The four main objectives of this paper are: (1) to validate the relationship between oral literature and ASL literature; (2) to provide a comprehensive definition for ASL literature; (3) to promote the value of originality as compared to translation; and (4) to create a taxonomy of ASL literary genres. Substantial information and some research data is presented which comes from the author’s doctoral dissertation, completed in 2013. A comprehensive definition of ASL literature is expected to help maintain the legitimacy and quality of the literary language of the deaf community. The author has been involved in the creation of a collection of ASL literary works, which provides a much-needed basis for research and scholarship. The general knowledge of ASL literature through the familiarity with works listed in the collection will help create a canon of ASL literature. Introduction At present, American Sign Language (ASL) enjoys popularity as a language to study. The Modern Language Association reported that student enrollment in signed language coursework is growing much faster than other languages in the American higher education setting (Furman, Goldberg, & Lusin, 2010; Goldberg, Looney, & Lusin, 2015; McQuillan, 2012). The inclusion of literature in any language study is important, and ASL should not be treated as an exception to the rule. ASL literature provides students with keen insights on the people who use signed language. Deaf people in the United States and parts of Canada are the primary users of ASL. They have formed and maintain a community that shares features of ethnic communities (Lane, Pillard, & Hedberg, 2011). ASL has played a central role in how deaf people have become a linguistic and cultural minority in the context of society (Ladd, 2003; Lane, Hoffmeister, & Bahan, 1996; Padden, 1980; Padden & Humphries, 1988; Stokoe, 1980; Wilcox, 1989). ASL can be seen as a latecomer to academia when it comes to how languages are traditionally taught (i.e., spoken and written). It was during the 1970s and 1980s that ASL started receiving recognition as an independent and full-fledged human language possessing a linguistic structure comprised of its own phonology, morphology, and syntax (Sandler & Lillo-Martin, 2006; Valli, Lucas, Mulrooney, & Villanueva, 2011). What is known 2FVb7VGW&RgW'FW"W7FfW2FPFV6rb42f&VvwVvRW&6B6F6VvW2BVfW'6FW2FW&P&R6WfW&7W'&7Vf"FV6r4FB&Rf&Rf"W&66RRrV&W2bFFV#C6֗FVGb֖2##bFRf7BFB42w&Fr77FV044Ģf( 2fvFW"#pS`