Cultural Aspects of American Deaf Culture and British Deaf Culture

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by SarahGiordano96
Last updated 6 years ago

Social Studies
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Cultural Aspects of American Deaf Culture and British Deaf Culture

Countries in which visual-gestural systems have evolved into a sign language often have a subculture of Deaf people who have been brought together by a shared language and shared experiences.

Since people who are of all nationalities and ethnicities can be born deaf, those who identify with the Deaf Culture in both America and England are very ethnically diverse. The British Deaf Community uses British Sign Language (BSL) and the American Deaf Culture uses American Sign Language (ASL). Deaf people from both communities also become fluent in written English.

Idioms:“TRAIN-ZOOM” in ASL is the equivalent of the English idiom “You missed the bus.”“TRUE BUSINESS” in ASL is the equivalent of the English idiom “True story.”“MAKE-ME-ITCH” in BSL is used in reference to a person one dislikes.“PUT-EARS-DOWN” in BSL means to put one in their place.

Etiquette (applies to both the American Deaf Culture and the British Deaf Culture):•Maintaining eye contact while conversing is very important, unless grammar calls for a change in eye gaze.•To get someone’s attention, waving in their peripheral vision, or tapping once or twice on their shoulder is acceptable. In order to get the attention of a room full of people, blink the lights, but not more than once.

Most Deaf Cultures are high context cultures. Deaf Communities are tight knit and members develop strong, long-term relationships with each other. These collectivist cultures make it a priority to keep each other informed about news within the community and in the world. Deaf Cultures are polychronic cultures, which value the present more than the past or future. Non-community members often comment that nothing starts on time in the Deaf Community. This concept is known as “Deaf time.”

American Sign Language has several regional dialects. For example, Deaf New Yorkers are known for signing at a faster pace than other Deaf Americans and Deaf Southerners are known for signing slower than the rest of the Deaf population. There are other variations in addition to speed; for example, the English word “birthday” has many different sign variations.British Sign Language also has regional variations, such as the sign used for “USA” as shown in the picture below. The first picture is from Cardiff region; the second is from London; the third is from Newcastle; the fourth is from Bristol; and the fifth is from Belfast.

Cultural Aspects of American Deaf Culture and British Deaf CultureBy Sarah Giordano

Nonverbal Symbols:In both BSL and ASL, non-manual markers are used by moving the mouth, cheeks, eyebrows, shoulders, and head. Body and gaze shifting are also used. These non-manual markers are used to add grammar to sentences, and to indicate intensity and mood.Taboos:Cochlear implants, devices implanted into the brain in order to create a mechanical representation of sound, are very controversial and sometimes considered taboo in Deaf Communities.

Although there is no embassy for Deaf people, BSL or ASL users visiting each other’s countries could visit one of the following embassies:24 Grosvenor Square, London W1A 2LQ, United Kingdom, 44 20 7499 90003100 Massachusetts Ave NW, Washington, DC 20008, (202) 588-6500

Bibliography:BSL QED. n.p., 2015. Web. 18 Feb. 2015."Deaflympics: FAQs." UK Deaf Sport. n.p., 2015. Web. 18 Feb. 2015"Etiquette." Deaf Perspective. n.p., n.d. Web. 18 Feb. 2015.Hallet, Emma. "England's regional sign language dialects in decline." BBC. BBC News, 2014. Web. 18 Feb. 2015.Humphrey, Janice H. and Bob J. Alcorn. So You Want to be An Interpreter? Seattle: H'H Publishing, 2007. Print.Sutton-Spence, Rachel and Bencie Woll. The Linguistics of British Sign Language: An Introduction. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003. Web. 18 Feb. 2015.

Events:The Deaf Nation expo is held in several U.S. cities celebrating different Deaf Cultures from around the world and showcasing different deaf-owned products and companies.England houses the Great Britain Deaflympic Organising Committee, which organizes Deaflympics, an international event similar to the Olympics.

On the left is a video showing essential signs in ASL and on the right is a video showing essential signs in BSL.


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