"I know" is often the response when I ask a deaf person who uses ASL about ASL in a linguistic perspective. Knowing doesn't mean understanding why you know.
“There is a great difference between knowing and understanding: you can know a lot about something and not really understand it” - Charles F. Kettering
How much do you truly understand about your native/natural language? Asking questions rather than taking information at face value brings understanding to something you know. This was why I declined teaching ASL at a local college, because I knew I didn't know enough. Six years ago, the third time they bugged me, I changed my mind and agreed
to start teaching. My understanding of ASL began to blossom through teaching, discussions, and workshops. Although mostly designed for interpreters, these activities surely benefited me.
Just because you know something does not mean that you will understand what you know. The challenge is to expand that knowledge to begin to understand why ASL exists and how it came to be. Perhaps through this process, we can begin to discern the future of ASL.
The process of learning a native language, referred to as the socialization process, begins at birth. During this process,
information is readily available for natural acquisition. While a deaf child in a hearing family may not go through the same process as a hearing child in the same family, both children are already naturally adaptive to acquire information in other manners other than a formal language. When a child reaches the age when they begin going to school, the transition to a formal language is called the academic process of language. I learned from Dr. Eddy Laird the difference between the BICS (natural) and CALP (academic) language acquisition processes. I can ensure you that Dr. Laird's presentation was fascinating.
Check out this article if you would like to learn more: http://www.everythingesl.net/inservices/bics_calp.php
While one may know ASL through socialization, one may not know enough to understand why there are linguistic rules when it comes to languages. For those who may not be familiar with ASL, it is a visual-spatial language used by many in the Deaf community to communicate. We do not know exactly how long ASL has been used because it is not easily recorded.
Do you know that ASL has nouns and verbs? What about the articles "the", "and", "was", "were", etc? The signs that exist are a part of the English-based sign method. ASL does not utilize them as conveniently as Spoken English.
Just basic knowledge is not enough if one wants to build language self-esteem and be able to discuss or create stories, jokes, or literature based in ASL.
So don’t just "know" - begin to understand!
Another quote I like while looking for the one above: “Those who know nothing of foreign languages know nothing of their
own.” - Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe
To Be Whole
Currently I am an ASL teacher at a local college and at an high school. I received my Masters in Sign Language Education from Gallaudet University. At home, I am an activist within the community, Northwest Indiana. My son is in first grade and my daughter goes to E.C.L.I.P.S.E. ASL Preschool. Change begins with you and change is effective with a team.