By Crom Saunders, Assistant Professor, MA
The ongoing increase in exposure to American Sign Language (ASL) in cultures and communities around the world is causing an exponential upswing in cross-culture contamination of sign languages with less documentation and recognition.
A large number of communities, especially in the underdeveloped countries, currently look to ASL as a model, since ASL has received worldwide acknowledgment and exhaustive linguistic analysis. This is problematic, since several sign language communities worldwide are now incorporating ASL features, vocabulary, and the English manual alphabet (in turn a contaminating influence on ASL) into their respective language systems, which disrupts the natural development of said systems independent of a contaminating influence. Linguists need to further scrutinize this phenomenon and measures that may be taken to analyze and document this current trend.
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