American Sign Language

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American Sign Language
Asl sutton.png
Region North America, West Africa
Native speakers 250,000–500,000 in the United States  (1972)[1]
Language family
French Sign Language
  • FSL-based, possibly a creole
    • American Sign Language
Black American Sign Language
Language codes
ISO 639-3 ase
ASL map (world).png
     Areas where ASL or a dialect/derivative of ASL is the national sign language     Areas where ASL is in significant use alongside another sign language

American Sign Language (old names: Amslan, Ameslan ) is the most popular sign language for the Deaf in the United States, in the English-speaking parts of Canada, and in parts of Mexico. Although the United Kingdom and the United States share English as a spoken and written language, British Sign Language (BSL) is different from American Sign Language. ASL actually comes from French Sign Language, as Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet went to England for help learning sign language to teach to his deaf neighbors. He could not find anyone willing to teach him the British Sign Language, but did find some French people who were willing to help, he convinced one of them to travel back to the United States with him to set up the first deaf school in the U.S.[2]

ASL is also used (sometimes with other sign languages) in the Philippines, Singapore, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Puerto Rico, Côte d'Ivoire, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Togo, Benin, Nigeria, Chad, Gabon, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Central African Republic, Mauritania, Kenya, Madagascar, and Zimbabwe. Like other sign languages, its grammar is different from any spoken language. No one knows how many people use sign language, but some people think that between 500,000 and 2 million people in the U.S.A. alone use sign language. It is the third most used language in the United States, behind English and Spanish.

ASL includes fingerspelling. Fingerspelling is a way to show any letter of the English alphabet using one hand. Fingerspelling is also used to express numbers. Names of people and names of places can be fingerspelled.

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