Monday, March 26, 2012

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Official English Debate Continues

So you've done some research, and you've heard some experts. Now, in the comment box at the bottom of this post, identify what is, in your view, the best reason to support Official English legislation and the best reason to oppose it.  (You don't have to hold both reasons to be valid.)

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Making it Official: A Collective Research Project

Below you will find some of the answers you and your classmates have found to the research questions I posed to you in an earlier e-mail about speakers of other languages in the United States, current laws that govern their rights, and the effect proposals to make English the official language of the country would have on those rights and on the federal budget.  Because several of you submitted similar materials (much of it provided by, a website that promotes efforts to make English the official language of the United States), I have edited and consolidated your work.  (My apologies to those researchers who don't get a name check!)

The Numbers 
We have read that there are 322 languages spoken in the United States. How do those languages break down in terms of number of speakers? How many people in the United States have limited proficiency in English?

Paula (source: reports that in 2000, 8.1 percent of the U.S. population met the definition of limited English proficient set by the U.S. Census, meaning that they spoke English "less than very well." Of these, 4.2 percent spoke English "not well" or "not at all" (Source: Census 2000).


Political Science professor Dr. Christine Pappas has generously agreed to visit our class on Monday, March 12th to talk to us about legal and political issues relevant to legislation that would make English the official language of the nation.  Please leave any questions you have for her in the comment box at the bottom of this post.

Friday, March 2, 2012

An Online Gallery of Sign Language Delights

Click here to learn how to sign the American Pledge of Allegiance (contributed by Noelle).
Click here to learn how to sign Greetings and Introductions (contributed by Jaime)

Mysteries and Misconceptions (contributed by Melissa)

ASL Humor (contributed by Nathan)

ABC song in ASL (contributed by Amber)

Christina Aguilera's "Beautiful" (also contributed by Amber)

Click here for another ASL campaign for more signed songs contributed by Amber.

ASL lessons:  Common Signs (contributed by Paula)

Paula also recommends this free, iphone app: isignlite.

Prayer and Hymns in ASL (contributed by Kaitlyn)

Young Children Signing (contributed by Caitlin)

Japanese sign language alphabet (contributed by Ashley)

ASL Babbling
This one shows how ASL babbling is different from the simple wiggling of toes and fingers that all children do when they're young.  The video's author describes the video in this way:  "Our 3 year-old son, home with us for 4 months, having well over 300 words in his vocabulary, but here, signing nonsense 'babbling.' An important step in language development. We love it!"  Click here to check out the blog where the author writes about this:

Sign Profanity (contributed by Jaime)
This one is what it says it is, so if you don't want to be exposed to these curse words, don't push the play button.

Tweetin' Crawdads, anyone?

Click here to learn more from the New York Times about a graduate student who argues that Twitter may be a rich source of information about regional language differences (e.g. Where do people say "Coke"? Where do they say "pop"? Where do they say "soda"?)

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Questions for Lisa Sheffield

Lisa Sheffield, the Director of ECU's Interpreter Services Program for Deaf or Hard of Hearing Students, will be visiting our class on Wednesday, March 7th to talk to us about ASL.  In the comment box below this post, please any questions you have for her.

Here are some questions I have for her:
1. What got you interested in ASL?
2. What is the biggest misperception people have of ASL?
3. In the article by Emmorey, we read that ASL has regional dialects.  For example, the sign for "funny" and "butter" may or may not be made with the thumb extended, depending on the region you are from.  Do you know of any other examples of this kind?  How do you sign these two words?  In what other ways might someone who signs have an "accent"?
4. We watched an online video of the Pledge of Allegiance translated into ASL, and I noted that the word "republic" is translated as "country," and "allegiance" is translated as "support."  "Republic" is a more specific term than "country," and I wonder if this kind of substitution is common?