American Sign Language

Travis Dougherty explains and demonstrates the ASL alphabet. Voice-over interpretation by Gilbert G. Lensbower.

I see, however, and I say it with regret, that any efforts that we have made or may still be making, to do better than, we have inadvertently fallen somewhat back of Abbé de l'Épée. Some of us have learned and still learn signs from uneducated pupils, instead of learning them from well instructed and experienced teachers.

The American Asylum, At Hartford, For The Education And Instruction Of The Deaf And Dumb

The prevalence of residential Deaf schools can account for much of the regional variance of signs and sign productions across the United States. Deaf schools often serve students of the state in which the school resides. That limited access to signers from other regions, combined with the residential quality of Deaf Schools promoted specific use of certain sign variants. Native signers did not have much access to signers from other regions during the beginning years of their education. It is hypothesized that because of that seclusion, certain variants of a sign prevailed over others due to the choice of variant used by the student of the school/signers in the community.

Just as there are accents in speech, there are regional accents in sign. People from the South sign slower than people in the North—even people from northern and southern Indiana have different styles.

officially recognize American Sign Language as a community language and a language of instruction in schools
Comparison of ASL writing systems. Sutton SignWriting is on the left, followed by Si5s, then Stokoe notation in the center, with SignFont and its simplified derivation ASL-phabet on the right.

Topicalization, accompanied with a null subject and a subject copy, can produce yet another word order, object–verb–subject (OVS).