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date: 21 November 2017

Abstract and Keywords

The socio-historical reality of the segregation era defined the geographical and racial isolation of residential state schools for the deaf that led to the development of Black American Sign Language (Black ASL) in southern and border states after the end of the American Civil War. Even though residential state schools for White deaf children existed a few decades before the end of Civil War and sign language had been used, Black deaf children were limited to their own forms of sign language. The linguistic features of Black ASL are reviewed in the chapter based on data produced by two different generations of Black and White informants in the South. Our analysis identified specific features such as handedness, location of the sign, size of the signing space, the use of repetition, lexical differences, and the incorporation of spoken African American English into Black ASL.

Keywords: Black American Sign Language (Black ASL), segregation, handedness, deafness, location of the sign, size of the signing space, lexical differences, African American English

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