Developed by Mark Halley
Competencies Addressed: Cultural Comptency, Register
Time Required for Activity: 15 mins
To learn about cultural competency and formal register use in ASL by watching an ASL text.
In this video, student leaders of the Gallaudet University Student Body Government (SBG) offer an open letter to the Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing.
You will watch a video in which three student leaders from the Gallaudet University Student Body Government (SBG) offer an open letter to the Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. Their letter is in response to comments made by AG Bell president Meredith Sugar. You can read her comments here: https://www.agbell.org/in-the-news/response-nyle-dimarco/. What are your personal reactions to Ms. Sugar’s comments? After reading the comments, predict how they might be taken by students at Gallaudet University. Consider how the SBG leaders may respond to her comments.
Watch the Video
Watch the video in its entirety. Be sure to turn off the captions. While watching the video, also consider the language style used by each signer. How would you describe their level of register? What linguistic features cue you into this?
Check Your Work
Did you correctly predict how the students would respond to Ms. Sugar’s letter? Did they say anything that surprised you?
You may have noticed that the speakers used a formal level of register, reflective of an open letter. Here are some of the linguistic features that indicate their formal register:
- 0:03 – Using the honorific I-AM sign
- 0:25 – Clear sentence boundaries (e.g., hands lowered)
- 1:11 – Limited facial expressions (e.g., when signing WOW)
- 1:50 – Two-handed signs (e.g, INSPIRE)
- 1:55 – Using the honorific YOU sign