SASLJ Vol. 2 No. 2 - Page 72

Line in ASL Poetry Valli The Nature of a Line in ASL Poetry 1 Clayton Valli Gallaudet University Introduction Since the late 1970's an increasing number of original American Sign Language (ASL) poems have been recognized, but there has been no definition of the nature of this poetry. A basic difficulty in the effort to interpret ASL poetry and its elements has been the identification of a line. This paper presents the results of an in-depth study of the nature of a line in ASL poetry in terms of poetic and linguistic analyses. In 1960, William Stokoe published the first analysis of the structure of ASL (Stokoe, 1960), the language which is used by North American deaf people as their medium of daily conversation. Since that time, numerous linguists including Supalla (1976), Battison (1978), Padden (1978), Liddell (1984), have provided many intruding findings about ASL and its structure and have drawn interesting parallels between spoken language structure and sign language structure. Each was influenced by Stokoe's basic idea that ASL is a language in which visible movement of hands and body in sign production fulfill the same communication function as the audible movement of mouth and tongue in speech production. Contributions to knowledge of the structure of ASL have made possible the linguistic analysis presented here. Since ASL has no orthography, use of videotape and detailed sign notations have provided the means, not only for publication, but also for recording and analyzing the poetry. Although most deaf adults who sign have learned ASL as their first language from their deaf peers, none have received formal instruction in that language. Instead, they have struggled to obtain an education including an appreciation of art forms such as poetry, through use of a second language. Most children are 'turned off' by their exposure to poetry through English and classify this form of heightened expression, with music, as made of sound which they cannot enjoy through vision, and of minimal value. Segmental notion: Hold - Movement The system used in notation is based on the fundamental distinction between movement features and articulatory features. In the system being developed by Liddell (1984) and Liddell and Johnson (1985), signs are viewed as segmentable into movement (M) and holds (H). H is produced when there is no change occurring in any of the other major descriptive features of a segment. If the hand configuration or the location or the way in which the hand is oriented is changing, the segment is called a M. There are six minor movement features of the fingers or wrists that occur in either H or M segments and do not affect any of the major movement paths. For example, the fingers may be wiggling during a H segment (e.g., COLOR) or during a M segment (e.g., MANY-PEOPLE-CONVERGE-ON-A-PLACE). In addition, if a movement (M) occurs on 1 Originally published as SLR '87: Papers from the Fourth International Symposium on Signed Language (1990), by W. Edmondson and F. Karlsson (Eds.), Hamburg, Germany, Signum Press. Valli's estate retain the copyright of this article. SASLJ, Vol. 2, No. 2 – Fall/Winter 2018 72