Monday, March 12, 2007

Have Deaf people evolved away from Deaf-Mutes?

Showing video clips from a 77 year old film taken at a NAD Convention in 1930 at Buffalo, Jay Krieger introduces the possibility that maybe we, Deaf people, have evolved away from Deaf-Mutes.


Jana Bielfeldt said...

Yes, before you said it, I noticed deaf people did not move their mouths way back then. I find that interesting. You made a good point. Sure time has changed. Should we go close our mouths while signing? It'd be awkward for me since Im so used to move my mouth while signing.

- Ron, Deaf-mute - said...

It was not evolved and people of oralism made Deaf people think that mute is a four-lettered word. Educators of oral education actually told young Deaf children that Deaf-mutes were bad examples and they were failures of the society. That is how Deaf people are still led to believe that mute is an unacceptable terminology in the Deaf community. I would suggest you avoid creating myths about Deaf people and read books about Deaf history in order to eliminate misunderstandings. I wonder where did you get the tape and would like to have a copy of that tape if possible. - Ron,

drmzz said...

Different era, we have ASL today. Deaf mute approach bores me to tears. Who wants to watch a facial expression like yours with tight lips? DEAD FACE! Give me ASL stories any day, which utilizes everything on a person's face.

Eric Lawrin said...

I dont really agree with your point that it was evolved. Deaf-mute people were and still are forced to oralize today. They lost their own origin, it is that oralists/audists colonized our real identity deaf-mute. We need more time to decolonize ourselve from many years.

Eric Lawrin

David A. Martin said...


See my comments

Anonymous said...

Yes, like all languages, ASL changes. So do signs we use in ASL. By 1930s, for example, most Deaf mutes did not teach in schools for the Deaf, and Deaf children were taught to be successful in speech language, not sign language. In 1960's, William Stokoe published a first dictionary of American sign language (lower cases for sign language) based on linguistic principles. It began the movement known today as ASL. Today we moved our lips because we were taught to talk to hearing teachers while enrolling in elementary school. All my elementary school teachers were hearing. I began to have one Deaf teacher in middle school. In high school I had more Deaf teachers. I used to think that I could never become an elementary school teacher because I never had experiences with Deaf teachers in it. I graduated from high school in early 1970s, and I cannot speak for younger generations anymore because I became a pre-school and elementary school teacher for five years in 1980s.

Chuck said...

Yes, that was what I tried to say in my response to Ella's Reclaiming "Deaf Mute". If you have not read it, please do so. Here I copies and pasted it for you.

Ella, I absolutely agree with you. I don’t have a doctorate in English or Linguistic but I know that ‘mute’ is not always as a negative word but it describes the soundless, unspoken, or silence.

Look at the TV remoter; there is a button for mute. We have choices. Hearies hit the button when they answer the phone. We, Deaf Mutes push it; we don’t want our neighbors who might think we are faking them, save it from confusion, and so on whatever your reason is.

Anyway, the words like mute or dumb can be used as slang or bad name. In any language, the vocabulary could be evolved or borrowed for a different meaning for a metaphorical approach or even insulting. That is human nature of looking down or slurring but we correct them that the behaviors or attitudes are not accepted.

Like you said, we are proud to be mutes. There are many reasons; one of them is the sensational part on our heritage.

Before the infamous Milan Conference, everyone, deaf are hearing, who used ASL, shut their mouths or seal lips. They were taught or trained not to mouth the words when they signed. Mouthing was a bad manner, ungraceful. It was true; I have researched and found it in the article as said by the former superintendent of Illinois School for the Deaf, Dr. Gillette when he confronted Abraham Graham Bell in one of the heavy debates on whether or not the Deaf should be taught orally.

One day, when I was in Gallaudet University Archive for the same research for my mural project now hanged in The Learning Center in Farmingham, MA, late Gilbert Eastman walked in during his break from the TV studio doing the Deaf Mosaic as host with heavy makeup on his face. He excitedly shared with us in the room his theory apparently just appeared in his head how we got the sign for ‘deaf’ with the index finger pointing to ear and mouth.

In the early 19th century, the Deaf schools used to have the name such as Ohio Institute for the Deaf and Dumb. Dumb meant not speaking or unable to speak before it evolved as something like stupidity or retarded. They signed ‘dumb’ simply for non-speaking like we do sign today for “shh” or “hush” with our index finger up on the lips. So Gil said, they used to sign their school name… for Deaf and Dumb [index finger pointing ear while shaking head for no or don’t + ‘and’ + index finger up on lips like “shh”] Years later, they dropped the sign for ‘and’ for a better and natural flow. We have the sign almost unchanged ever since. Of course the word of dumb removed from paper or sign that later unfitted the new definition of the word but they didn’t omit the sign “shh”. Today, we sign it with the finger pointing to ear end of jaw and to almost middle of the jaw under the lips.

I found the nice black and white photo of lovely Gallaudet female student in the turn of century as a model showing the sign (“shh”). On the bottom of picture the ink was written, “Silence” When I saw it I was moved. I selected it to include in the mural with other 200 pictures around the room.

Silence is golden, one can say more by being silent ... hush while you sign.

[Let me add to this] To sign and speak at the same time we have been doing, is uncalled and disrespectful. The stimulated communication or total communication has proven as failure and not really effective. You may have not thinking but you are doing as an audist. Imagine as you are communicating with French, using all French words in straight English grammer. What a clash!

Anyway, you can move your mouth but you should shut your voice off, mute your voice or you would sign English that would break the law of natural language, unethically.

To see those folks signing on the old film made me wanting to sit on time machine taveling back to their time to watch them or chat with them in the old glory of Deafhood (if I use the right term, did I?)

Deaf Advocate said...

Thanks for sharing about what evolved. It is audism that caused deaf to change the rules. It is all Bell's fault and his idiocy.

I agree about the history of not using voice or mouth. I tried very hard not to do it, but I end up talking. This takes practice to stop mouthing.

I have seen old films when I worked at Gallaudet Library in 1972. I was amazed to see the wealth of history in the archives. I saw everything before the books, videos and stuff came out from years and years of dust collecting.

I wonder why it took so long to bring them out to public. It seemed that someone was trying to hide them.

It tears me up when oral schools destroy our rich culture. It is time to fight back and turn around 127 years of audism and oppression.

You notice something in films and videos...deaf look younger than hearing. My family asked me the same thing... I began to realize it... if we do not talk and keep closed our mouths, the less wrinkles we get. They keep saying did they have fountain of youth somewhere?? LOL poor hearing people they get more wrinkles from yapping.

I think you can get online and view the films from Gallaudet Library.

By the way, Jay, thanks for sharing!


Jessica said...


Not clear on what you mean by Thursday? The first one, "H" going down is sign for Every Thursday while TH is for the day itself. Did you mean you will use TH instead of just H?


Do you have a special fixation with legs or gams? :)

I agree with Dr. MZZZ, use of the whole face with hands makes ASL storytelling much more animated. In the old films, it just made me focus on the hands only. Guess I am so used to looking at the face as part of the signing space now.

Now back to bed I go!

Susan said...

I loved watching the old film - ...nostalgia :)

I noticed the lady who interpreted the song... I assume she's an hearing interpreter, yet she doesn't use her mouth!!!

I think it's the mindset back then, real deaf-mutes, real ASL.. I don't mean that we have less ASL now, but in more fuller sense back then, perhaps?

1930 is after the Milan Conference, so by that time there should be some oralists... I wonder if it's because of a big division between the oral and the deaf-mute (those who reject oral and stick to ASL, perhaps they had an unspoken [pun not intended] :) agreement to show their solidarity for ASL in face of repressive oral educators)... nowadays we have in-betweens with total communication, etc...

Just my thoughts. Loved this vlog. Thank you for sharing :)

ASL said...

You got right! Long time ago, they has no movement lips also no facial expression face so today we has facial expression face and movement lips for better to understand that s part of ASL. Because ASL is part of body movement, lips movement and facial expression face.

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed the clips. Laurent Clerc had his poker face and never moved his lips. In other words he passed it on to deaf people not using facical expressions or lip movements which were very rude. In the later years more oralists cannot read signs so they force people to use lip movements or facial expressions for oralists can read their lips in place of signs. Some native signers rely on lipreading if they do not understand the signs. We have an option to read lips or signs or both lips and signs.

Anonymous said...

Ah, you got it into that vlog compare between 1930 and 2007...It was something valuable to save that tape. I wish to point it out the difference between West Coast schools and East Coast Schools today. I notice no lip movements come from the students who attend west coast school compare to east coast school the students tend to move their lips. I believe more combined oralist and manuals practice in east coast area. If you look closely..Most of students from West Coast schools they do not move their lips. Also notice that film showing lot of finger spelling...even in front of 3000 people in could they follow what the person is trying to tell them...I strongly believe the interpreters were Coda in those days.

ASL said...

Oralist force Deaf people's lips movement, thats not true!! Like for example we created new sign language for word by word, created facial expression face, created body movement and created lips movement not the words, just like PAH, MMM, CHA, etc (Tobey's vLog) Thats ASL. If we dont using body movement, no lips movement, no facial expression then it is not ASL part because they are learning like level 1

IamMine said...

It's evolution, baby!

Aw, don't take me too seriously...(for those who don’t know me, that’s a line from my favorite band! :D )

But it is interesting how we've changed a lot with ASL language because of a lot of things happened over the course of time since then.

Sure, oralism has paved its way into the deaf history.

However, ASLers also have modified by adding more facial expressions.

Back then - I THINK - people were sterner according to the society's "norm". Men and women did not use facial expression as a mode to show affection, etc. Correct me if I’m wrong. I’m no historian.

Nowadays you see people going to the extremes with their body movements (look at rap singers, for example) and there's more freedom to express oneself than back in the old days.

We have evolved over the time with our body language/movement and the language itself.

Deaf-mute identity, for some, was simply to empower themselves as a Deaf person as an equal communication to that of speaking with voice mode.

Others, it’s an ugly memory to bring back from past. Deaf is for most to feel comfortable and still working on getting equal respect and rights. They simply do not wish to reclaim this and still feeling empowered as a Deaf person.

For me, it’s not an issue I’m concerned with because it’s not something I’m interested in MYSELF as a deaf individual; however I respect those who feel very comfortable calling themselves DeafMutes.

But are they the same meaning today – 77 years ago and today? No. Many terms have been re-defined, or even traditions have changed, but still respecting history at the same time.

Also today people are allowed to re-define themselves with almost no rules. We are allowed to do that today, while in the old days, we had to confirm to the majority or we were automatically “outcasts”.

Who am I? I am deaf and support ASL. I am mine. No one owns me, only I own my mind.

Anonymous said...

Time surely has changed. I reckon that the sign language in the 20th century and back then, are now evolved. Right now, we are in the 21st century, we are using our "modern" ASL. For instance, we have used the words such as computers, pagers, emails, etc. in our technology sign languages. I noticed that the 1930's the way they used their language as the very basic "PSE."

Is it something? Isn't it?

White Ghost

Deaf Niches said...

Hi, I like iammine's comment... I really cannnot blame audism, Bell, etc. Long ago, Latin was an offical language, then French, then English... but there are a lot of borrowed words (you can look up the dictionaries and you'd find the word orings of the words.)

Still it is FUN to watch the film ;)

John Lestina --- said...


Deaf Niches said...

John L., I watched your vlog and noticed one thing. Your facial expression shows a strong influence of oralism (the movements of mouth), making the facial expression more interesting, and we could get a feeling of emotions, joy, excitement, etc. Deaf-mute version of BB, hmmm, I would think the game was more quiet, more serious.

So... I'd give a nod to the oralism's influence as positive one... movements of mouth/some voices to give a sense of emotions.

Hearing people's voices have full of inflections, tones, etc., as to give a sense of emotions. We have hands, facial expressions, mouth movements to bely emotions.

Anonymous said...

Deaf mutes are deaf people who do not have their facial expressions or move their lips because they were taught by oler generation. Now deaf mutes are no longer deaf mutes. They use exaggerated facial expressions to overlook their messages. Nowadays the deaf people become technological addicts relaying on pagers, SK, etc without looking at the signers. Recently videophones were born. Now they look at the signers. It is not an evolvement. Like clothes... old fashioned hundred years from now they will wear the same kind of clothes like one cycle.

IamMine said...

What's BB, deaf niches?

IamMine said...



I got it!!!

I can be slow... ;)

Deaf Niches said...

Ha ha... yeah, basketball. ;)

IamMine said...

I'm going off the track here, but I hope someone else will make a separate vlog on this.

This old film showed NO black deaf people.

Interesting...we need them to come on DeafRead so we can get on the next level TOGETHER to combat both racism and audism.

We cannot afford to ignore racism, people. It's just as bad as audism.

I'm trying to get my close friend who is an American African to do vlogs. But she's pressed for time.

Watch "Deaf Eyes" on March 21st on PBS.

Now I'll mute my typing. :)

drmzz said...

Yes Jessica, ASL is more animated and lively nowadays. Adapting retro-attitudes is irrelevant today, IMO. Like Jay said, we have evolved since. And IAM: It's evolution, baby! :) Agreed about diversity. I'll watch that PBS show!

Anonymous said...

Reply to Iammine, WE do understand in school days, black and white do mingle among themselves but once they are out of school..they were trained to go to their own people (Black) same goes to (white) has been going on for countless years till approx 20th Century, We started to include the Black people in our community and learn to understand their cultures etc, vice versa. Today we see lot of black and white marriages, etc. we are now educated that we are created equal after all since the slavery days.

BEG said...

Interesting. One thing I've worked on in learning ASL is NOT to mouth or say words with it. I see no reason to do that, to be honest. I would distinguish that, though, from making expressions while signing, that certainly seems an integral component of signing.

I think there may also be several other factors. One is, if you watch clips of people (hearing or deaf) generally back in that era, they seem very stiff and formal. That may be a combination of the culture than (people were much more reserved back then) also the movies themselves were hard to make, I get the feeling that some of the signing and such is being done slowly and carefully to be better captured on the really poor quality filming.

In any case, I'm a raw beginner to ASL, but at the last coffee gathering I went to, after a couple of hours of working thru ASL conversations and such, one of the women (a 'terp) asked me if I could speak at all. I couldn't figure out why she asked me that, but perhaps if it's that common for signers to say what they can, it confused her that I didn't...I actually didn't know whether people were saying things aloud or not, I didn't have my hearing aids on.

I learn new things every day ;-)

brenster said...

interesting. i watched old film again, this time more studying on their use of non-manual markers. most signers did use a lot of non-manual markers: head and eyebrow movements. although it was hard to view old film, I caught some of them moving their mouths slightly. Their mouths were not dead-lock shut all the time, but some of them did not move their lips at all. however, i did notice their use of non-manual markers. in my view, i believe it is important to eliminate use of ENGLISH MOUTHING (not ASL grammatical mouth movement). I know that habit is hard to break since most of us were completely trained to use speech and voice starting in elementary school. (carl, i also never had Deaf teachers at elementary school and that was in mid-1970s. i finally had one Deaf teacher in middle school. then had little bit more Deaf teachers in high school). i remember when i was conversing with another Deaf student in elementary school, our teacher would interrupt me, telling me to use my voice even though i was not talking with her! i wouldn't give a nod to oralism and signed English for their influence on our ASL as those did rob me out of my use of pure and beauty of ASL. it was not until I was in college when I finally learned structure of ASL which brought me to remember many old signs I have used when I was little girl before I was forced to use SEE. Since then, I decided to break many old and bad habits (PARENTS, ROOM, IT, etc - also English mouthing). I do notice myself, and I am sure that it is the same with other Deaf people, but when I chat with other Deaf people, I feel like I used true ASL but then with hearing people, it seemed my brain automatically switch to use of English mouthing. like I said, it is hard to break the habit but it is not impossible - we just have to make it happen!

ASL said...

ex: without expression face and without expression mouth. We are confused which right the word in English for 3 different words. (All same sign language)

ex: with expression and with expression mouth. We understand which she/he talking about.

That's why we added expression face and expression mouth for right the word in single ASL.

I don't understand why they are not accept expression face and mouth! If not using these then it is NOT ASL and I think it is PSE.

We using ASL required expression face and expression mouth. Have you people seen Deaf Ninja vLog? With expression face and expression mouth is greatest for story ASL like cinema/movie, compare with sealed mouth will be boring to watch story ASL. I think sealed mouth is ideal for PSE or SEE!

DT said...

I think the absence of "mouthing" back then is cuz they hadn't invented Listerine yet. Lol! Nice find, Jay!

Michele said...

This is interesting, Jay! I remember one particular older deaf man who was in our deaf club, he rarely moved his lips at all but he signed big when he got on the stage for all of us to understand. I could understand him very well because he signed with gracefulness, fingerspelled very clearly and used proper movements of signs. I don't see this happening today with the younger generation. Look at Davila and his generation, they sign differently (Panara, Davila, and others that I cannot recall out of my head). Then we have the new deaf generation like Hlibok, Rarus, Ryan Commerson. It would be great if Jay could do a series of short videotapes of Davila, Panara, Bernard Bragg, then do the other series of Hlibok, Rarus, and others and we could compare to see how much sign language along with the mouth movement has evolved. I also notice that people who graduated from Lexington School for the deaf use a lot of mouth movemeent with sign language but they sign so well.

Michele said...

One more thing, I am working with a young deaf child, he has not had any speech training yet, I see him signing a little bit but he always has his mouth closed. I believe that if we never received speech training, we probably would have signed with our mouth closed.

mishkazena said...

Interesting discussion.

It's fascinating to watch the old movies. The signings appear to be ritualized and very formal, with an internal rhythm. The fingerspelling looked exaggerated, with timed pauses between each manual letter. The spelling nowadays are rapid and fluid. The facial movement in the old movies also appeared to be minimal, too.

Obviously ASL have evolved tremendously since 1930's, incorporating facial expressions and mouth movements.

When John L attempted to narrated the basketball story with no mouth movement, the story became dull. The contrast is startling. John L, please do keep signing with mouth movements so your stories will remain very animated! :)

If you examine English in 1930's, it is also very reserved and formalized, unlike the modern English.

Language evolved naturally with ASL, just like English.

todos la vie said...

Hi Jay,

I had to play your vlog over and over to get your meaning. I'm thinking one thing, but the discussion is leading the other way, and I'm wholely unsure what you are referring to in terms of the word, "mute". While I get that we are moving our mouths more because our ASL has evolved to include mouth movements, however are you meaning that because we didn't move our mouths back in 1930, we were given the "deaf-mute" label? So therefore, because we are moving our mouths now, we should sign off on it?

Hmm...interesting perspective, but I'm thinking some of the discussion here is focusing on whether we should close our mouth and reclaim Ella's deaf-mute strategy. Am I wrong?

Michele said...

I just found a videotape of Agatha Hanson. She is a very beautiful signer, she does not use her mouth movements but her signs are very clear. I dont know if you can access to this or not.

Jay said...

ron, deaf-mute,
Open debate means people bring their ideas and opinions freely, and as a result the entire group raises their awarenesses. Debate does not occur if one comes in with accusions or suggestions on what other should behave, as they can be directed back to the same person, defeating the spirit of a debate.

David Martin,
You seem to be frowning too much when you try to talk like a deaf-mute. Can tell its not your natural thing to do. No, I am not sick, the webcam is. Chuckling on the legs -- just an example I had in mind, but I did dream of real legs. See my latest vLog about Harley-Davidson! You inspired me.

Even back to the origins of deaf-mutes, there were hearing teachers of all kinds. Yet they were deaf-mutes.

deaf advocate,
Think about it -- it takes much more muscles to frown than it does to smile. Maybe we evolved into happy Deaf from serious Deaf-mutes. Im kidding here, so dont kill me on this.

Its not just Milan that is dividing us. Just look at DeafRead -- we are dividing within ourselves by ourselves.

I really wonder where the Deaf-Mute came from. I am sure, it was a label given to them by the hearing world, not by themselves. Hmm.

todos la vie,
you are the only one who caught my true purpose of this vLog -- to express my observation that maybe thats the real reason for calling us Deaf-Mutes -- that we didnt use our lips at all.

For the rest of you,
I am not denying the roots or influences that exist that led us to be who we are. What I am stating is that we have survived because we adapted over the years with many different forces of influence.

Jay said...

Michele, the link you provided gave me "session timed out". I guess the URL doesnt work until you login to their library?

Nancy said...

It is probably because, back in the old days in the 1930's, people do not smile in front of cameras. They have bad teeth.

michele said...

Jay, shoot! I was afraid that y'all would not be able to link to this website. Oh well, its

You would need to set up an account but it is definitely worth your time watching those deaf history videotapes. Click on deaf history when you login there.

If no luck, go to Gallaudet website and search for videolibrary. Good luck! ;-)

michele said...

Jay, shoot! I was afraid that y'all would not be able to link to this website. Oh well, its

You would need to set up an account but it is definitely worth your time watching those deaf history videotapes. Click on deaf history when you login there.

If no luck, go to Gallaudet website and search for videolibrary. Good luck! ;-)

Jay said...


I got in Gally's videolibrary. There it is, they have the videoclip of the same tape I had. You can watch the clip in its entirity.

Thanks for the tip.

Jessica said...

Brenster brings up a good point about nonmanual markers and more focus on it than mouthing.

Still the faces, even with the nonmanual markers, looked stoic compared to today. Imagine putting Ella up on a stage at that time as compared to that man on the stage signing a poem or a song and there will be a huge difference.

So like some of the commenters said, ASL has evolved. Back then, more focus seemed on the hands and fingerspelling and less on the face.

Makes me think of when I took art history class at Gallaudet, we studied the evolution of art from stiff statues with arms and legs straight with flat faces, changing to more versatility over the times.
So makes me think that ASL became more versatile and added more dimension over the times. More mouth movements, etc.

This was about 50 years after the Milan Conference and the desire to preserve ASL (George Veditz)was around that time. It may have influenced the dynamics of ASL at that time.

Yes, it is very hard to keep mouth closed while signing. I have a bad habit of mouthing a lot due to the fact that I grew up mostly in programs where they expect talking and signing at the same time. I also had a hearing family and that was the best way for them to understand me. Ironically, my mother never used her voice with me when signing to me. Anyway, so that is a habit that is hard for me to break. I do feel funny trying to keep my mouth shut.

Actually what stuck to my mind and made so much more sense about the concept of Deaf Mute was when Ella brought up about Deaf Mutes was not so much about "can't speak" but more about less depend on voice. Being deaf mute means we do not depend on voice to communicate even though we can use our voices. Voices aren't everything in communication.

Deanna said...


Deaf Niches said...

Jay and Susan, yes, I agree with you... I quickly noticed that the DeafRead is a hotbed for discussions (sure, many discussions are thought provoking) and it quickly shows many divisions among ourselves, into our comfortable niches (or as some people would call, cliches). Many commenters do post nice, neutral comments while others post aggressive (to the point of oppressive) comments. Like you said several blogs ago, don't bother to view nor comment to the blogs/vlogs if one does not like it.

Still it is fun reading other people's opinions, respecting their beliefs. I have noticed many commenters are young and hotheaded, bringing an amused smile to my face sometimes. Ah, wait till they get older and wiser... :)

Jessica said...

Deaf Niches,

That is one main thing I like about DeafRead. So many interesting views on different topics all in one place.

Helps me look at something from different angles.

I don't think I would have got that from socializing at home. Here there are cliques and it is harder to share different views because people are more focused on staying in their groups or hanging out together when at a general event. Makes it less accessible to see different experiences and views. Here noone can say you are not invited. Everybody is invited to join in and get the same information as everybody else.

It seems that some groups may have more inside information than others because maybe they have more access to that information due to work for example. So they are the first to know and then quicker to take action or respond and then when the others catch on, it is more delayed for them. At least that is what I observe. Maybe you can relate to that being near ISD?

Wish there were so much less of that but seems like that is the way of things. Personalities, communication, whatever.

Anyway, it just gives us an opportunity to see all the issues and views all in one place here no matter what group we are in.

Deaf Niches said...

Jessica, yeah... I have grown up as a deaf oral child, gone to an oral deaf school, then mainstreamed (as a solitaire) at high school and at a hearing college. Then NTID where I first learned SimCom (I know, I know, it is NOT a language, but hey that is what I learned, in 1980's before Deaf Prez Now protest.) Then married a deaf guy and had two deaf kids... one choosing oralism and another choosing ASL. I had a good social life when living in Rochester, NY, mingling with all kinds of deafies. Then my family moved to ISD... my son is mainstreamed and my daughter attends ISD and we attend a deaf church, etc. One thing I noticed about ISD community... there are many DODs yes, but they refrain from discussing the rights/wrongs about using ASL, showing respect to other deaf's comfort level in the communication... So it is nice.

Would be nice if ALL say, "yeah, I respect and accept you and here is what I say..." not putting other people down (like Carl S. and DRMZZ) in front of us... I don't feel it was appropriate to show that, but that is my opinion then.

I believe I have a good grasp of ASL (my comprehension of ASL is a lot better than my expression of it anyway, and I do use my voice when signing, can't help it, a habit of mine, liking to hear myself talking, ha.)

Thanks anyway.

Anonymous said...

Dr. William C. Stokoe (pronounced STOH-key) Jr., a renowned linguistics pioneer, a Gallaudet University professor emeritus of linguistics and one of the most influential hearing individuals in the Deaf community who was known throughout the Deaf community as the Father of ASL for his significant contributions to ASL (American Sign Language). William C. Stokoe was born in July 1919 in New Hampshire. He attended Wells College in 1937 with his intention to study physical chemistry but it consumed time and money. So, he turned his interest to English courses. He later received his Ph.D. in English in 1946 and taught English at Wells College for seven years.

Jacey said...

Yes! That old movie sure bought my memories back to me. Love to watch my familes back then with lot of laughters... wishing more deaf people still using old ASL.....

Jean Boutcher said...

I must commend you for your excellent research. The language employed by deaf people shown in the film was the same language employed by my mother -- the language that spanned from 1920s to 1970s. The deaf people, including my mother, used a lot of fingerspelling which is equivalent to the written English. Apparently to compensate for the lack of hearing as well as to depict that deaf people of 1930s were bilingual. Now I look at signers of the 21st century and notice that they use less fingerspelling and more pointing for pronouns.
Hope you will show more vlogs on the old films. What about showing
a film of Gallaudet's first president Edward M. Galladuet? I saw one in which he signed gracefully.

Anonymous said...

Back in the old days they closed their mouths because they didnt visit their dentist? Hid their rotten teeth? ;) forgive me!

Anonymous said...

It is not that the deaf have evolved. "Mute" was a term labeled on a person for their differences not because of their voice. Signing in such a way, with your mouth closed, was to look proper and acceptable. Remember that these deaf had to do their best to fit in. In our time there is more deaf awareness and acceptance. It is more important to communicate than it is to act in a certain way. I guess it would be best said that society has evolved to welcome the deaf and their ways.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous March 15 8:03,

Come to think about it, people back then did not smile much for pictures, did they? Whenever I see a black and white picture from early in the century, always flat mouth.

Anonymous said...

Remeber how I was corrected to not using mute because it represent low class deaf...
maybe most of you focus on lip movement and not bother to analyze hand movement... Watch again to see how big hand movement were... compare to modern hand signs, so small... I recalled Mr Runde's hand movement, so big and clearly when I was kid..

Anonymous said...

I am a video relay interpreter. Facial expressions and mouth movements help me to interpret more accurate. A big thank you to all the ASL users who seek to be clear and use all aspects of ASL including facial grammar!

Anonymous said...

No, I must say. I recall my parents often said it is not polite to use sign language and use oral same time. It must be related to mannerisn or being polite in public. It was often conflict when I preach in different congregations, some will tell me to not use my mouth while others will tell me to. I think it is not related to Deaf Mute. Sigh!

Anonymous said...

I agree with drmzz: It's a different era.

If you'll notice in the film again, there's a LOT of SPELLING. You don't find much spellers nowadays. I can almost see another argument...OH NO!!! ROCHESTER METHOD!!! BAD, ROCHESTER!!! TERRIBLE TIMES BACK THEN!!! LOL...

The truth is, it was a different era. That's all.

If anyone takes the time to visit old timers, retired Senior Citizens'll find some classic signs (that are rarely used today) as well as classic CLEAR fingerspelling and signing (today we tend to be a bit sloppy).

I encourage the young Deaf people to visit the elderly Deaf. Then we'll see how signing had EVERY aspect. Sometimes, it's the younger ones...sometimes it's the elderly...BUT MOST IMPORTANT, we were able to communicate across all age groups.

That is the success of ASL. Lip movements, fingerspelling, sloppy clarity issues...they will always continue to evolve.

It's also an old issue...kinda boring.

Trazy said...

Did we have hearing aids back then? We have so much technology in our lives nowadays, that it's practically easy to forget that very little of such devices existed 77 years ago. Growing up, many of us were forced to wearing hearing aids and go thru speech training. With the use of various aids, we could hear to some degrees, some better than others. And it would seem the better we could hear with these aids, the more likely we could develop speech & lip movements. Even many of us have become dependent on wearing such devices to better function in the hearing world through family, school, work, community and so forth. Through these trainings and habits, it has become ingrained into our lives; therefore, if deaf people had very little access to hearing devices, wouldn't it have increased their potential to remain mute?

Anonymous said...

OK, deaf-mutes are still exist around the world, today it has envolved us to use lipreading and voices where deaf becomes involved with hearing society. When you muted the TV, it means voice is off, therefore, when Deaf not using voice while signing and liping that is mute.

Anonymous said...

I am not sure about that because the person who did that asl with mouth shutted in 1930's era. I am sure why did hearing people called us deafies as an animals when deafies open their mouths in the past, present, and future, huh? Evolved? No! No changes at all! Deafies from deaf schools or merged schools - anywhere... remain the same behaviors of deafies' because ASL from different places have own accents so mouth openings are not the evolution causes.

Anonymous said...

When you sign Deaf, you point your first finger toward your ear and move toward your mouth, then that sounds like Deaf mute, but if you sign with your first finger toward your ear and move toward your other hand shaped like b or like shutting a door, then that would mean Deaf. I never notice that until my Deaf friend told me.