Friday, 4 December 2020

ASL/BSL and English


As a deaf person myself, we all deaf people who live in the US using two languages 24/7. The first language is ASL (American Sign Language) and the second language is English. We are ”switching our brain” daily and 24/7 for two different communities: hearing and deaf because hearing is using the English language and deaf is using ASL. 

ATR: It does appear the American deaf have a more positive approach to English, which is the opposite of the UK,  the home of it!   However, I would not go with the American claim of universal bilingualism, albeit ASL is a lot further down the road as a potential 'language' than BSL is, but both have issues of grammar still.  BSL has less than 50K signs and a poor grammatical structure with no academic references and less than 50 years old, whilst English has 238K words a complete grammar, and over a 1,000 years of development.

It pays testament to the internet more than anything else. If you cut through the interminable, lengthy, and obscure terminologies the Americans use, sign is still an issue, as averse to the Brits who cannot be bothered basically and adopting signed English at a much greater rate.

If all USA deaf were bilingual, they still prefer to not use it and attack it if their online responses are anything to go by, and huge reluctance to caption or subtitle individual output, the same in the  UK.  It appears based on a view English undermines sign language and its culture, which is untrue, it actually can enhance it, and certainly, the deaf would advance a lot further by acquiring it.  

It is said, the USA has 'too much' diversity and democracy, and trying to accommodate too many, and it will fail and create more problems as a result.  I am told it has about 10 primary languages, whereas the UK tends to suggest there is only 1 and it isn't BSL.  Despite widespread usage of Urdu and Polish. The case is far more justified in those languages than BSL because there are 400,000 Urdu speakers, and 546,000 who speak polish compare that with 15,000 who insisted in the UK census they used BSL and still get more public access.

Minority education isn't a feature in the UK and tends to be opposed, BSL has fallen foul of that by default..  The Welsh language is the only one we really see in media and education and only then in Wales itself.  

E.G: Welsh is said to be potentially up to 4,000 years old, Welsh is one of the oldest living languages in Europe. Welsh originates from the Celtic language spoken by the ancient Britons.

BSL is less than 50. The USA approach to free speech means a fair amount of discrimination is OK because of the fine line between challenging statements and claims.  Everyone cannot do what they want, or when they want to do it, 1,000s of laws exist to say you can't.   In the USA every state has its own variations too.

The UK has no real way to enforce discriminations despite 5 laws to do it, the 'sue everyone for anything and everything', culture doesn't operate in the UK, and the nature of opposing discrimination means whatever an individual attains cannot set precedence, which usually means every single deaf person has to go it alone, then the UK government removed their right to free legal aid (But not for illegal migrants?),  making it impossible to launch a case unless you had your own financial wherewithal.  The UK in effect put lawbreakers rights above deaf ones.

The European Union (Now a system the UK has rejected and left), could only make recommendations to the UK and then hope the UK accepted those, (As they tried in the 1990s to empower BSL and 31 other minority languages), but the UK paid only lip-service to it, 76% of deaf schools had closed and 80% of deaf clubs followed, and despite recent success in gaining a 'BSL Act' the base for it to work has been decimated and BSL in education has not been endorsed either.

To date, only Scotland Ireland have endorsed a BSL 'Act', with Wales showing no interest or England.  They appear ineffective so far and only exist as an 'image' rather than a major advance in access.  More profile but still less legal clout. The 'sticking point' being choice, and a reluctance to empower a minority choice over a parental and state educational approach.  A BSL 'immersive' approach would fail to gain any real support with parents and the state would still insist there is a need for the deaf to acquire English.  Attempts to get BSL on the curriculum have been 'left on the table' for the last 6 years.  Nobody really has the desire or will to endorse it, at least to date.

The 'American way' is hamstrung by its own approaches and reluctance to apply logic and common sense to minority demands in case some discrimination 'ism' or 'phobic' is assumed.  They are struggling to keep up with new ones every other week being mooted. It is an issue the UK is starting to experience as well. One man's 'meat' is another's poison etc, and the right to not agree is paramount, but that premise is under attack, various extreme areas exploit it as a grey area by silencing debate and discussion.

At some point, they are going to get NO for an answer because you can never please all the people all the time.  We gave terrorists rights and a platform for hate.......... now we are endorsing a deaf elite as well.