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Free Online Learning about Sign Language by Georgetown University

About this course

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ASL has a long history and good documentation. This course, Emergence and Evolution of Sign Language, explores the origins of ASL by beginning with the key events and key concepts. How do people learn signed languages? Why do people enjoy using them? This key information will provide a foundation for understanding the relationship between how people use language, how it’s learned, and how a language community is formed and sustained. This foundation will illustrate how the language survives, which is equally important to recognize. These ideas will be discussed in this core course and they provide a foundation of understanding about where language comes from and why they vary.

What you'll learn

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By the end of the course learners should be able to:
  • State the role that iconicity plays in the emergence and evolution of ASL
  • Define the term "chereology"
  • Identify the primary and secondary parameters in sign formation
  • Describe the nature of cognitive encoding of individual signs
  • Describe the nature of language-specific constraints on sign formation
  • Distinguish between conventionalization and innovation in sign language

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