Reading: Differences in Sign Language Highlights Discourse Communities

dialects,, language, readings, sign language

This article from The Washington Post demonstrates that there is a racial difference in American Sign Language usage. It traces the difference back to practices in segregation and could be used as a place to start a discussion on the way different dialects form. It is also a very useful way to discuss that there is no “right” way to use language and that language develops through usage.

Lisa Wade also talks about this post over at Sociological Images.

Some possible questions that could go along with a class discussion or reading response on this article include:

  • What do you think about the article? Does it surprise you that there is a difference in these uses of sign language?
  • What does this article tell us about the right way to use language?
  • Do you think that there are racial differences in the way that people use oral communication?
  • Are there other circumstances that change the way we use communication (age, profession, region, etc.)?
  • Have you ever felt like your own style of communication didn’t match that of the people around you? If so, how did you handle it?
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