Jenny is proficient in ASL, a naturally developed language, and is a member of a rich linguistic community.
The Deaf community shares a common language, which helps establish shared cultural values.
Sign languages develop naturally in Deaf communities, as spoken languages do in hearing communities.
As in spoken languages, sign languages have their own linguistic rules, including phology, morphology and syntax.
Morphology / Classifiers
Jenny shows demonstrable skill in each of these linguistic areas.
Advanced Storytelling Skills
Five Phonological Elements Are Incorporated Simultaneously Into Each ASL Sign
Each sign uses at least one of 18 primary handshapes. Signs may be one or two handed, and may have multiple handshapes involved in the sign.
The direction that each palm faces is important to any given sign, and a change of Orientation may result in different meaning.
Non-Manuals are facial movements and expressions that add meaning to a sign.
Signs are located on a particular place of the body, or in neutral space in front of the body. Any given sign may begin in one place and end in another.
Signs may have internal movement, such as wiggling fingers, or a sign may begin in one location and move to another ending location.
The 5 phonological parameters of ASL occur simultaneously in each sign and are impossible to talk about independently of each other. All 5 parameters come together to build morphemes.
In the next slide we will examine the 5 phonological features of the morpheme that is equivalent to the English word HOT. This appears in Jenny's story at the 0:10 timestamp.
In the sign HOT Jenny incorporates all 5 Phonological Elements
This is a one-handed sign that uses the 5-handshape with spread and slightly flexed fingers
The sign moves from one location to another, so it begins with the palm facing the mouth and moves to the palm facing the ground near the waist.
Jenny uses the CHA mouth shape to indicate that it is an extremely hot day.
The sign occurs in neutral space, and moves from slightly in front of the mouth to slightly in front of the waist.
The movement of the sign follows a line from in front of the mouth to in front of the waist.
MORPHOLOGICAL FEATURES: DERIVATIONAL
Fingerspelling borrows letters from the English language alphabet, which are formed through different handshapes, in order to allow words to be pronounced in ASL.
Numerical Incorporation changes the primary handshape of a sign to indicate how many of those items are being referred to, such as days, weeks or months.
Initalized Signs use the fingerspelled handshape of the first letter of an English word in the equivalent ASL sign, as a way of borrowing the word into ASL.
Jenny demonstrates the following three forms of Derivational Morphology in her Deaf King Kong story.
The words KING KONG are fingerspelled first to provide the title of the story (timestamp 0:01).
The sign 1-DAY is used as a way of providing the time
setting of the story, taking place during a single day in the past (timestamps 0:06 and 0:11).
The sign PEOPLE is a 2-handed symmetrical sign produced with the P handshape in both hands (timestamp 0:12).
MORPHOLOGICAL FEATURES: INFLECTIONAL
Adverbial Mouth Morphemes are facial expressions formed with the mouth, which are attached to other signs in order to create meaning.
Jenny demonstrates the following type of Inflectional Morphology in her Deaf King Kong story.
While defining the beach area, the CHA mouth morpheme is used to show that it is a very large area (timestamp 0:08).
The sign FASCINATE is produced with the tongue slightly out to indicate a degree of fascination that King Kong is showing in the girl.
MORPHOLOGICAL FEATURES: CLASSIFIERS
Whole Entity Classifiers describe the entire entity that is being referred to.
Environmental, or Elemental, Classifiers describe the movement and type of elements such as water or fire.
Body Part Classifiers describes a part of the body and the type of movement that occurs.
Jenny demonstrates the following three Classifier Constructions in her Deaf King Kong story.
This is an example of a Whole Entity Classifier, which uses the fingers of both hands to represent crowds of people flocking to the beach (timestamp 0:13).
This is an example of an Environmental Classifier, which uses both arms and hands to represent the ground shaking as King Kong approaches (timestamp 0:24).
The classifier for LOOK AT is used to depict the crowd looking in the direction of King Kong (timestamp 0:19). This is also a lexicalized classifier, which has entered the language as an established sign.
The lexicalized classifier for LOOK AT is used again to depict King Kong looking at the girl on the beach (timestamps 0:34 and 0:37)
Subject, Object, Verb
This is the most common word order in ASL, and is used often by Jenny, albeit sometimes as SV, without O.
Subject, Verb, Object
Verb, Object, Subject
Object, Verb, Subject
Object, Subject, Verb
There are five possible combinations of the three grammatical elements, Subject, Object and Verb. The most common order in ASL is the SVO sentence structure. Jenny demonstrates correct syntax both in her role as narrator and when shifting into the role of King Kong.
The most common word order in ASL is SVO, and Jenny clearly has strong command of this syntactic feature of ASL.
As narrator, Jenny constructs the sentence 1-DAY, PEOPLE FLOCKED TO THE BEACH. She starts by setting the past tense 1 DAY, states the subject PEOPLE and uses a classifier construction to depict the locative/spatial verb of people running toward the object, the BEACH (timestamp 0:11-0:14).
In her role as King Kong, Jenny says I WANT TO MARRY [YOU]. This is intended to be SVO word order, but when King Kong (the subject) squashes the girl (the object), he does not state the object pronoun 'you' following the plain verbs WANT MARRY. The intended SVO order is still implied
Both examples use appropriate Subject-Verb agreement.
In the ASL Topic-Comment sentence structure, the "raised eyebrows" non-manual is utilized to signify the topic at the beginning of a sentence
When Jenny begins sentences with 1 DAY, she raises her eyebrows to set the topic of the sentence, followed by a comment on what happened that day (timestamps 0:06 and 0:11).
In the ASL Subject-Pronoun Copy sentence structure, the signer indexes toward a referent after establishing who they are.
Jenny indicates that there is one girl lying on the beach after the crowd flees by signing GIRL, [INDEX] LYE ON BEACH
As the storyteller breaks eye contact with the audience, they can show the action of what's happening in the story.
All three of these storytelling techniques are performed by breaking eye contact with the audience.
As the storyteller breaks eye contact with the audience, they can speak as each of the characters. A change in body position indicates which character they are portraying
As the storyteller breaks eye contact with the audience, they can show the psychological state of any given character.
Jenny uses Constructed Action while portraying the title character, King Kong, and while setting the beach scene at the beach
Jenny beats her hands on her chest to show the nature of the character each time she reintroduces him. This is also the sign for GORILLA, an Iconic sign that demonstrates a gorilla's behavior. When used as Constructed Action, Jenny squints her eyes to slightly break eye contact (timestamps 0:04, 0:21 and 0:34).
Jenny breaks eye contact with the audience while she is setting up the beach scene, showing the ocean waves moving in and out (timestamp 0:09).
Jenny uses Constructed Action while showing people running toward and away from the beach.
Jenny breaks eye contact with the audience while she shows people running to the beach, lying down, and lounging in the sun (timestamp 0:13-0:17).
Jenny breaks eye contact again as she depicts crowds of people running away from the beach (timestamp 0:25-0:27).
Jenny shows the psychological state of the characters throughout the story.
Jenny demonstrates the psychological state of the crowd at the beach when she looks up toward King Kong in terror (timestamp 0:18).
Jenny demonstrates the psychological state King Kong as he stares in fascination at the girl lying on the beach
Jenny demonstrates the psychological state of the girl waking up in a panic in the palm of King Kong's large hand (timestamp 0:41).
Two examples of Constructed Dialogue occur when King Kong is speaking to the girl in the palm of his hand.
In King Kong's first line of dialogue, he points to the girl to say WOW YOU'RE BEAUTIFUL
In King Kong's second line of dialogue, he says I WANT TO MARRY ---, and is cut off before he can says YOU, as he realizes he squashes the girl (timestamp 0:53 - 0:58).
WEAK HAND DELETION
ASL has 6 phonological processes that can appear throughout the language.
The way in which Jenny uses Constructed Action and Constructed Dialogue allows three of these to appear.
Occurs when the non-dominant hand of a 2-handed sign is dropped.
A sign may appear at a lower location or closer to the body than normal.
The non-dominant hand of a 2-handed sign can appear early if it is preceded by a 1-handed sign.
The signer may produce a sign in the opposite direction to how it is usually signed.
When one part of a sign changes in a way to match the following sign.
hand of a 2-handed sign may appear early if the following sign is 1-handed.
The first Phonological Process that appears in Jenny's story is Metathesis. The sign BEACH can be produced in multiple directions, such as with the dominant hand facing toward or away from the body. Jenny's BEACH sign has the dominant hand moving away from the body (timestamp 0:09).
While this is an example of Metathesis, her directionality is informed by the way in which she is setting the scene for her story through depiction. Rather than signing BEACH as a sign close to her body, she is moving her arms out to the side to set the stage for the setting of the story, allowing the viewers to imagine the ocean waves in front of them.
Anticipation occurs when Jenny's King Kong character transitions from the sign WANT to the sign MARRY. While she is depicting him holding the girl in his left palm, he signs WANT with his right hand. She continues to hold out her left palm as WANT transitions to MARRY. The act of holding the girl allows the process of Anticipation to occur (timestamp 0:54-0:56).
The same process allows Assimilation to occur. The signs WANT and MARRY require the same handshape, so the former is smoothly assimilated into the latter. This is not a strong example of Assimilation, which usually requires one sign to change handshapes to match the other, but the principle still stands.
ADVANCED STORYTELLING SKILLS
After King Kong picks up the girl with his right hand, Jenny's role shift depiction changes direction so King Kong is holding the girl in this left hand (timestamp 0:38-0:44), serving 2 purposes:
ROLE SHIFT CHANGES DIRECTION
This is an advanced technique in ASL storytelling, creating the illusion that a camera has moved to the the opposite side of the two characters.
If Jenny has not employed this technique, King Kong's constructed dialogue would not be able to be portrayed through her dominant hand, which is required by ASL.
CONSTRUCTED DIALOGUE IN DOMINANT HAND
The Deaf King Kong story is commonly passed through the Deaf community. Jenny is clearly aware of her community's traditions of storytelling and shares a common sense of humor. She has created her own variation of the story in which King Kong finds the girl at a beach, rather than in a building window, demonstrating creativity through linguistic ability.
The Deaf community identifies some signers as having a strong storytelling ability. Jenny is clearly amongst these ranks.
VARIATION ON A THEME
Requires ability to manipulate linguistic feature of ASL and an understanding of the original version of the story.
AWARENESS OF DEAF CULTURE AND HUMOR
Requires ability to comprehend the stories that are passed through the community
STRONG COMMAND OF ASL LANGUAGE
Acquired through interactions with the Deaf community.
I hope that you will rule in favor of Jenny attending her classes with access to a sign language interpreting team.