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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Scholarships for American Sign Language Majors

Bullet name award deadline Link
 

Boren Fellowship

National Security Education Program

Up to $24,000 January 27, 2021 See Details
 

Boren Fellowship

National Security Education Program

award

Up to $24,000

deadline

January 27, 2021
See Details
 

Alan and Jan Pauw Family Scholarship

Calvin College

$2,800 February 01, 2021 See Details
 

Alan and Jan Pauw Family Scholarship

Calvin College

award

$2,800

deadline

February 01, 2021
See Details
 

AFCEA War Veterans Scholarships

Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association (AFCEA)

$3,000 November 15, 2020 See Details
 

AFCEA War Veterans Scholarships

Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association (AFCEA)

award

$3,000

deadline

November 15, 2020
See Details
 

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

award

$2,000

deadline

Varies
See Details
 

Robert T. and Charlotte F. Otten Scholarship

Calvin College

$1,800 February 01, 2021 See Details
 

Robert T. and Charlotte F. Otten Scholarship

Calvin College

award

$1,800

deadline

February 01, 2021
See Details
 

Eleanor B. Reiner Foundation ASL/Deaf Studies Scholarship

Union County College

$1,600 March 15, 2021 See Details
 

Eleanor B. Reiner Foundation ASL/Deaf Studies Scholarship

Union County College

award

$1,600

deadline

March 15, 2021
See Details
 

Asa Iokepa de Neeve Aloha Memorial Scholarship

University of Colorado Boulder

$1,500 March 13, 2021 See Details
 

Asa Iokepa de Neeve Aloha Memorial Scholarship

University of Colorado Boulder

award

$1,500

deadline

March 13, 2021
See Details
 

Alan R. Barwiolek Memorial Scholarship

Union County College

$1,250 March 15, 2021 See Details
 

Alan R. Barwiolek Memorial Scholarship

Union County College

award

$1,250

deadline

March 15, 2021
See Details
 

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

award

$1,100

deadline

Varies
See Details
 

Michael Hodge Memorial Scholarship

Galveston College

$1,000 Varies See Details
 

Michael Hodge Memorial Scholarship

Galveston College

award

$1,000

deadline

Varies
See Details