Did you know that the United States, England and Australia all have different sign language systems? Yep, you are reading this correctly… despite all of these countries using English as their “native” spoken tongue, their sign language systems are all different. Tell me more, you ask!? All of the countries have similar signs that are gestural, such as for DRINK. However, the alphabet and numbers are all completely different. England uses a two handed system which frankly I find difficult. (What happens if you are carrying a package and need to ask someone to “ring you up on the phone”?)
ASL (American Sign Language) was brought over to this country from France. It has undergone some drastic changes, but structurally the grammar is very akin to French. Which is why students of the French language often do well learning ASL. I also believe this is why the Brits don’t use ASL. They will allow French wine and pastries in to the United Kingdom but never a sign language system that was rooted in France. Now if you are British don’t get angry, I am not hear to chose sides, but really- a two handed alphabet? You could have chosen ANOTHER one handed alphabet!
Now what about the Australians… Recently I was asked by Shara Lawrence – Weiss from Personalchildstories.com (PCS) to send some of our joint Signing Families and PCS products to Australia. In particular our educator series for preschoolers (I Can Count to Ten in ASL, English and Spanish and the Trilingual chart for the prompts I WANT and I FEEL). I asked Shara what American School in Australia wanted our products and she replied that it was for an Australian school. Hold the presses! That won’t fly Orville! So, I had to explain the whole story about ASL not having much in common with UK sign systems, including the ones across the Pacific Pond. But, don’t fear we can do this I thought. So, this week PCS and Signing Families are making by request Australian Sign Language counting books and language charts. We will take new photos and develop at least one new chart for teachers of the deaf and preschoolers to use in their Australian classrooms. Who knew that one simple request could start a whole new series of products and workshops for us!
At the bottom of this post is my attempt to show some basic Australian Sign (AUSLAN). Enjoy and please ignore my ‘I am exhausted look’- the World Cup has taken over my life and watching on FIOS demand has been exhausting, albeit fun.
Now for Father’s Day. As you know, this Sunday is Father’s Day here in the US. Many people get all mushy around Father’s Day, I sometimes do, too. My father died twenty years ago and I wish now that I had made a bigger fuss on Father’s Day then we did. He was a great communicator, educator and in his own way, comedian. He loved kids and life, in general. The last June weekend of every year is dedicated in his memory by our family. You see this is wheni my brothers, myself and our families converge on little Wellsville, New York all at once. This hamlet of a town is where our Dad was Superintendent of schools for more than 15 years and our task each year on this weekend is to give a college scholarship to one deserving Wellsville High School graduate. We never give the award to the best or the brightest. We always try to find a student who exemplifies hard work and determination against all odds. For some, this scholarship makes the difference between attending school or not. And each year we are full to the brim with pride as one of Stan Masin’s grandchildren now gets the opportunity to stand in front of a thousand or more people to announce the recipient of the scholarship in his memory. So, Happy Father’s Day to all the Dad’s in the world who help teach their children great values such as how it is so much better to give than ever to receive.
Enjoy the YouTube Video of AUSLAN.