Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Will the ASL Be An Endangered Language?

"The Linguists" (2008) new subtitled film have been screened at many universities and linguistic associations and several film festivals to the acclaims of film attendees and linguists and university researchers. That film also have been shown at Yale University, University of London, University of Chicago and Purdue University this year.

American Sign Language (ASL) itself is surely possible to be one of the endangered language if the new scientific breakthrough for complete reversal of hearing loss and the AGBell's AVT (audio verbal therapy) doctrination.

This film is mainly a documentary about two linguists raced to record the endangered languages and associated cultures around the world like the "Indiana Jones" adventures before the last fluent speakers of endangered and forgotten and hidden languages die.

7,000 different languages are currently spoken around the entire globe, many are rapidly disappearing. On the average, one language disappears into thin air every two weeks. Scientists and linguist experts estimate that the half of language will be on the verge of extinction in this 21th century due to economic and sociopolitical colonialism, ex. China on Tibet and Tawian and AGBell doctrines on the use of AVT to get rid of American Sign Language (ASL).

So the AGBell could accomplish Alexander Graham Bell's lifetime dreams of crushing deaf people's visual communication for all good with the AVT and sleath campaign against the ASL users and integrate deaf people like cattle against their own will.



are part of the film campaign slogans for "The Linguists" documentary. It (the film) have been the talk of the town at the Sundance Film Festival last January 2008. The Linguistic Society of America and National Science Foundation shown great interests in this film to preserve the endangered, hidden and forgotten languages. http://www.lsadc.org/ and http://ling.bu.edu/in/the/news The American Sign Language (ASL) related topics have been posted on the Linguistic Society of America website.

For the film reviews and additional information of "The Linguists" -



Rosetta Stone Endangered Language program based in Harrisburg, VA, is a main non-profit organization devoted to the preservation of endangered and hidden language. It strongly encouraged the local and remote languages to be community-owned, culturally relevant and urge people to keep the language integrity and support existing efforts. This organization also offer paid internship to graduate and undergraduate students interested in contributing to the works of the program. http://www.rosettastone.org/

"The Linguists" film will be screened at the National Geographic Society (NGS) of Washington, DC next Thursday, October 2, 2008. How ironic of the NGS being co-founded by Alexander Graham Bell (AGB) and his associates which the NGS will screen this film as part of preserving and promoting the endangered languages like the American Sign Language (ASL).

The United Nations' UNESCO unit will screen "The Linguists" film this October 2008 in New York City, NY. For more info on the screening locations, check out http://www.thelinguists.com/

American Sign Language (ASL) always will be prevail and remain forever for centuries among the humankind. Of course, our present ASL usage will be much different from the next 50 to 100 years. Or our American Sign Language be more likely to be extinct depend on our actions and National Association of the Deaf - Alexander Graham Bell and Mike McConnell and Mike Schidmit aka Drmzzz?

Barb DiGigi, Joey Baer, Ricky Taylor aka Ridor, Cy, MZ, Amy Cohen Efron and other more bloggers and vloggers are the protectors of American Sign Language (ASL) and cherish the rights to visual communication and fluency.

The upcoming RLM blog article - "What Happened to Our ASL Fluency". Keep tune in to the RLMDEAF blog for this article.

ASLize yours,
Robert L. Mason


  1. I have no doubt ASL will prevail. There will always be Deaf people around. Baby Signs are gaining more popularity as well as ASL in high schools and universities. ASL will still be used by hearing people who cannot vocalize words due to neurological disorders such as strokes and autism.

  2. Robert,

    We won the protest in 2006. There's no need to worry about ASL being an endangered language.

    The residential schools will be strong again and there will be another Golden Era, just as there was in the 1800's.

    Cochlear implants are not a panacea, and the talk about gene therapy, etc, is a long, loooonnnnngggg time down the road--more than 50-100 years, probably. At that time, there will *still* be Deaf people, because the gene therapy will not be a panacea either.

    As long as there as human beings on earth, then there will be Deaf people and Deaf culture.

  3. MZ and Anonymous,

    I am really delighted to see many optimistic outlook of ASL's future. :)

    How realistic we are about the future of ASL anyway? I am speaking of next 50 to 100 years from now.

    I did not see any organized efforts for the preservance of ASL images with the Library of Congress' folklife collection programs.

    Many thanks for leaving comments.


  4. Preservation of ASL is happening every day -- VLOGS are a perfect example of how we preserve the language, and they will not fade away, not be lost. In digital format, they are a permanent record of ASL usage in 2008.

    As MZ and Anonymous are optimistic, I am also sure that ASL will never be on the "Endangered Language List" although some people will always TRY to invent another way to prevent or eliminate Deaf people. We can see how successful they have been -- Parents can be deceived while children are young, but when Deaf youth have the power to make their OWN decisions, they often choose ASL instead of other "fake" approaches to communication.

  5. I really don't know if the gestural system will ever become extinct. However, the structure of American Sign Language will undoubtedly undergo changes just like the spoken English language or any language. The culprit, I believe, is the heavy influence coming from the written English language. As more and more ASL users improve their reading and writing skills in the written English language, the ASL will be influenced by the English language in very subtle ways. So, the ASL in the 22nd century may be different from the ASL that is in our current century. There is nothing wrong with it but the ASL purists will decry this.

    There is no need to castigate Dr. Alexander Graham Bell and the Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. Dr. Bell did not wholly oppose any gestural system. The association exists to serve some deaf and hard-of-hearing people's needs.

    You stated two main reasons for the endangerment of the spoken languages: Economic and sociopolitical influences. I want to add two more reasons that are very often overlooked: Technologies of telecommunication and lack of writing system. Amazingly advancing technologies of telecommunication have very profound influence on the communication among the people. The people using the minority languages may feel that they need to learn the majority languages in order to communicate with the people using the majority languages. As the result, the usage of the minority languages diminishes. The writing system is the most effective way to capture, store and transport language from the past or present to the future. Without it, spoken language has very low odd of surviving for a long time.

    The number of existing spoken languages is very high and I feel that there are too many of them. It is possible that the number of existing spoken languages will drop by a large number but it will become stable at the optimal level. What is the optimal level, I have no idea.

    Joseph Pietro Riolo

    Public domain notice: I put all of my expressions in this post in the public domain.

  6. Bell's degree was only an honorary degree. You should make that clear.

  7. Ummm, Bell's honorary degree in medicine was for creating a vacuum jacket for artificial respiration which was a huge medical advancement. He created it after his own personal tragedy in losing an infant son. How exactly is your point about it being honorary... honorable?!? Do you know how many lives have been saved due to his inventions? It's actually good that he has passed from this life and doesn't have to read the libelous, ridiculous crap from people who smear his good name. Take a gander at just a few books about him and you might learn a thing or two. OR bettter yet, take a trip to the center dedicated to his name which exists in Canada. Or go to the library of Congress and read up on him.

    And... it's not standard to mention that someone's degree is honorary when using that bestowed nomenclature. It would actually be kind of rude. They are honored for a reason.

  8. Languages die when people no longer use them, lose interest in them, and find no joy or relevance in their use.

    Sign language is unbeatable for its strong expressiveness and beauty, and as long as there are Deaf people, ASL will not disappear.

    Like all languages, however, it can change. Many excellent signs have disappeared, so making videos of school signs, local signs, and specialized signs will be important in preserving them. Although they have been replaced by better signs or different ways to express ideas, keeping them recorded for posterity can lead to interesting linguistic research.

  9. No. But Cochlear implants will be.

  10. Anonymous #2,

    Hmm, VLOGS are not really preserved in any ways. Are we?

    I am speaking of linguistic researchers being not aware of the existence of DeafRead blog/vlogsphere.

    Gallaudet University Archives, Library of Congress, AGBell, NAD and other linguistic associations surely not take any efforts to preserve the images of ASL. especially deaf vlogs and blogs.

    Aren't we?

    I am still stressed for the federal recognization of American Sign Language to be protected as a significant "cultural and linguistic minority language".

    So there could be the federal and private stipends on regular basis to preserve, record and document the existence of American Sign Language and deaf people's socipolitical and economic history.

    I have to disagree with you that the ASL is somewhat an endangered language which the fluency and infliction from modern technology.

    The current ASL status get lesser "gestural" and more "English-like" inflictions as compared to last 50 to 100 years ago among deaf Americans and Canadians.

    You could examine the majority of current Gallaudet student body which their signings are pretty frightened and dreaded as compared to the past 20-60 years ago of Gallaudet students.

    We have to think about the future of ASL now or we will be surely doomed as a distinct cultural and linguistic minority.


  11. To Anonymous (10:12 p.m.),

    Bell never used the title "Dr." to refer to himself and he never asked anyone to call him "Dr."

    You should respect Bell's wishes and stop writing "Dr. Bell".

  12. Joseph,

    Your comment are being acknowledged.

    You are absolutely right about AGB personally never oppose the use of gestural signs, but he made many proposals without consulting the deaf community and work out together for the betterment of deaf people. Haven't he?

    The AGBell have the past excellent documentations of residential schools for the deaf i their Volta Bureau magazines.

    I do not see anything on the AGBell website to promote the beauty and superiority of ASL.

    Did the AGBell doing any kind of latest documentation on ASL so far?

    You are exactly correct about the frequent overlooked aspect of telecommunication on the development of language(s).

    Mobile phones became the widely used device for interpersonal communication all over the world unlike in the United States.

    Unfornuately, most of the electronic communication, ex. email correspondences are not largely preserved.

    The Dubya-Dicky Adminstration (Bush II-Cheney) managed to erase their intraoffice e-communication and take the pfft to the National Archives and existing laws to preserve all the White House communication means. Ever the written memos ended up in the office shredders.

    All deaf events, lectures and other deaf gatherings should be required to be videotaped for the future generation.


  13. Dianrez,

    I would like to see you being appointed as a history preservationist of ASL to the Library of Congress.

    You don't have to live in DC to do this project. You could do from your own home.

    The Library of Congress' budget have been heavily slashed for past 4 years.

    The interpreting services for the LOC employees and visitors have been greatly reduced.

    The ADA/interpreter coordinator seems have to be let go due to the budget problems.


  14. Actually, Bell *did* object to the use of natural sign language. He wrote: "In fact, I advocate pure English methods whatever you do" in the year 1898, in the journal "The Educator", Volume 5, page 44.

  15. BR,

    Thanks for clarifying on Bell's position on natural language. :) We always appreciate your wisdom and intelligence.


  16. Also, Bell made a pamphlet of that article. Here's a link to see the page (in the pamphlet) where Bell wrote: In fact, I advocate pure English methods whatever you do"


  17. BR,

    Oh I see. What a resourceful and underappreicated person you are!

    Many thanks for this enclosure for everyone to read and learn more about AGB's true colors. :)

    Thanks again. I have to go off for the evening swimming to enjoy the last drops of summertime. I already am tanned pretty much. I need the storage of Vitamin D for going thru the wintertime bliues.


  18. This is in response to the comment made by BR (just initials, no full name given).

    Note the key word "wholly" that I used in my comment. I wrote, "Dr. Bell did not wholly oppose any gestural system." I am fully aware that he had a very strong preference toward the oral methods but there is no indication that he opposed any gestural system in every way at all the times.

    According to Dr. Bell's article that was reprinted at:


    He wrote:

    "I prefer the pure oral method to any other, but I would rather have a deaf child taught through De l'Epe'e signs than not educated at all." (Page 121)

    "In their case I am not an advocate exclusively of the oral method alone, but look also with favor upon the manual alphabet method as developed in the Rochester school." (Page 121)

    I am trying to give a balanced view on Dr. Bell's position here, unlike few people who chose to impose their heavily slanted view on him with the intention to vilify him.

    Joseph Pietro Riolo

  19. Any scholar who reads Bell's paper in a dispassionate manner can easily verify exactly what Bell wrote, which is that he is plainly against the use of what we today call "ASL" being used in educational settings. As noted above, Bell wrote: "In fact, I advocate pure English methods whatever you do". The fact that he only tolerated its use when there was no other alternative other than to leave a child uneducated is exactly why Bell should be condemned. His view was an exclusionary one, and it was just plain wrong--no ifs, ands, or buts.

    Here's a link to the entire 1898 paper (both papers), which is a better link to use:


    Or read it one page at a time this way: