How Baby Signs Infantilized American Sign Language

Five years or so ago, the Baby Signs movement was in full bowel, with mommies everywhere clamoring to get their babies “signing” their first words instead of verbalizing sounds.  “Baby Signs,” the theory still goes today, “is a prime key to early intellectualization and language acquisition for babies.”  The problem with that notion is that Baby Signs do not teach a language — Baby Signs only destroys an established language by infantilization and misuse and ego projection — and I’ve never seen any convincing, quantifiable, evidence that Baby Signs actually does a baby any good.  Oh, Baby Signing is great for mommy because it makes her feel fulfilled and that she’s given birth to a genius-child-by-inference using imagined visual glossing, but Baby Signs does nothing significant at all for the baby because the intention is to never actually teach the baby American Sign Language.  The intention of Baby Signs is to improperly use ASL HandShapes out of context to bridge the baby into spoken English.

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Yes, You Can End a Sentence with a Preposition: Appropriate Grammar is Not Absolute

I recently had a wonderful conversation with my mentor Howard Stein — also my Columbia University MFA Playwriting Chair and head of the Oscar Hammerstein II Center for Theatre Studies, and now lifelong friend — concerning the appropriateness of ending an English sentence with a preposition.

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Grammar For the Birds

As a child I would listen with joy to the calls of the different birds that lived in my Princeton Junction, New Jersey neighborhood. Sometimes when I was walking home from school or the pool I would hear a bird singing to another bird and try to imitate the call, hoping to get some kind of response from another bird. I suppose I must have been doing it wrong because I never got any sort of answer from other birds. Now it looks like studies are showing the reason for my lack of answer may have just been poor grammar on my part. Grammar — in a bird call? Absolutely, according to a seemingly unnecessary study by Kentaro Abe of Kyoto University in Japan.

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For The Record… Part 1

I recently quit the correcting game and stopped correcting people out loud when they made mistakes. SuperGenius David Boles suggested that I should write down the errors and blog about them since stoppering them internally would do me no good. Without further ado, please enjoy the following corrections — For The Record…

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Quitting the Correcting Game

For most of my adult life I have had a pretty bad addiction, and I am trying to put it behind me. Whether it is in the context of a conversation in person, over the phone, or conducted over any of a number of digitial media, I have wasted too much time correcting people — it has to stop now.

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How to Find the Right ASL Teacher

Janna and I teach American Sign Language online and in books through our Hardcore ASL program.  We are often asked by students and schools how one can find the right ASL teacher.
Here are some things you should ask to know:

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How the Superman Syndrome Ruins Student Writing

Hubris is dangerous in the classroom.  The student that believes nothing can be learned that isn’t already known catches nothing.  The instructor that believes in an all-knowing prescience guarantees nothing worthwhile is cast for the capturing.  That battle between student and teacher can dangerously become a war between good and evil — and that fight leaves no winners on the field of learning.

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