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American Sign Language

American Sign Language (ASL) is a natural language that serves as the predominant sign language of Deaf communities in the United States and most of Anglophone Canada. Besides North America, dialects of ASL and ASL-based creoles are used in many countries around the world, including much of West Africa and parts of Southeast Asia. ASL is also widely learned as a second language, serving as a lingua franca. ASL is most closely related to French Sign Language (LSF). It has been proposed that ASL is a creole language of LSF, although ASL shows features atypical of creole languages, such as agglutinative morphology.

ASL originated in the early 19th century in the American School for the Deaf (ASD) in Hartford, Connecticut, from a situation of language contact. Since then, ASL use has propagated widely via schools for the deaf and Deaf community organizations. Despite its wide use, no accurate count of ASL users has been taken, though reliable estimates for American ASL users range from 250,000 to 500,000 persons, including a number of children of deaf adults. ASL users face stigma due to beliefs in the superiority of oral language to sign language, compounded by the fact that ASL is often glossed in English due to the lack of a standard writing system.

ASL signs have a number of phonemic components, including movement of the face and torso as well as the hands. ASL is not a form of pantomime, but iconicity does play a larger role in ASL than in spoken languages. English loan words are often borrowed through fingerspelling, although ASL grammar is unrelated to that of English. ASL has verbal agreement and aspectual marking and has a productive system of forming agglutinative classifiers. Many linguists believe ASL to be a subject–verb–object (SVO) language, but there are several alternative proposals to account for ASL word order.

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Matching American Sign Language Colleges

Scholarships for American Sign Language Majors

name award deadline

Sven Peterson Memorial Scholarship - UCSD

University of California, San Diego

$2,000 Varies See Details

Sven Peterson Memorial Scholarship - UCSD

University of California, San Diego

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$2,000

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Doug and Dianne Taylor Scholarship

University of Montana, Missoula - College of Arts and Sciences

$1,100 Varies See Details

Doug and Dianne Taylor Scholarship

University of Montana, Missoula - College of Arts and Sciences

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$1,100

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Michael Hodge Memorial Scholarship

Galveston College

$1,000 Varies See Details

Michael Hodge Memorial Scholarship

Galveston College

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$1,000

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Humanities & Social Sciences Tiger Athletic Foundation Scholarship

Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, College of Arts and Science

$1,000 Varies See Details

Humanities & Social Sciences Tiger Athletic Foundation Scholarship

Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, College of Arts and Science

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$1,000

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Laura S. and Chester W. Nortz Endowed Scholarship

Westminster College, Utah

$600 Varies See Details

Laura S. and Chester W. Nortz Endowed Scholarship

Westminster College, Utah

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$600

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Aldo and Adriana Busot Scholarship

University of Wisconsin, Whitewater

$600 Varies See Details

Aldo and Adriana Busot Scholarship

University of Wisconsin, Whitewater

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$600

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Karl and Sue Roider Undergraduate Scholarship

Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, College of Arts and Science

$500 Varies See Details

Karl and Sue Roider Undergraduate Scholarship

Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, College of Arts and Science

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$500

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Jack Heide Scholarship

University of Wisconsin, Whitewater

$500 Varies See Details

Jack Heide Scholarship

University of Wisconsin, Whitewater

award

$500

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Herbert Huey McElveen Scholarship

Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, College of Arts and Science

$500 Varies See Details

Herbert Huey McElveen Scholarship

Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, College of Arts and Science

award

$500

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Harvey Jay and Betty Adele Jacobs Schwartzberg Fellowship

Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, College of Arts and Science

$500 Varies See Details

Harvey Jay and Betty Adele Jacobs Schwartzberg Fellowship

Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, College of Arts and Science

award

$500

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