Language and Societies

ANT/LIN 5320 at Wayne State University

American Sign Language and the influences of Computer Mediated Communication

American Sign Language and the influences of Computer Mediated Communication

Jennifer Rivera

The recent technology boom in the field of Computer Mediated Communications has proved transformative to the organization and linguistic structure of American Sign Language (ASL). Given ASL’s lack of an orthographic representation the textual communication mediums have been English based and therefore provide challenges in the visual spatial world of ASL. The more recent video technologies allow for direct visual communication in ASL, though due to the mediums restrictions the language is often modified for clarity. This paper aims to address the adaptations used within ASL in response to Computer Mediated Communication through a literature review of several influential authors in the field, such as Elizabeth Keating, and the linguistic text of Ceil et al. It is shown that the Deaf community has adapted its language to fit the constraints of English text by the increased use of emoticons and over all increased modification of the emotional value of text in order to mimic the affective non-manuals within ASL that are lacking in text. The alterations shown to occur most frequently in response to video mediums is in the increase of English code switching and changes in the location in which the sign is produced in relation to the signers body. Further research is need within the field in general to see if the signs that are being modified in relation to communication technologies are only used in conjunction with the technologies, or if the changes are seeping into ASL usage in general. Such research is essential to better our understandings of the relationship between ASL and Computer Mediated Communication technologies so that more efficient mediums of communication for ASL can be created in the future.

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April 23, 2010 - Posted by | abstract

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