ASL around the world: A Trinidadian, an Englishman, a Nigerian and a Guyanese walk into a park in Guyana…

Excellent response to “What I think about a Peace Corps posting…”. As a Peace Corps Volunteer in Kenya, I often ran into Deaf Kenyans who told me that they wanted to learn more ASL. I would tell them that they already had a language that worked just as well – KSL (Kenyan Sign Language). But they said that “ASL was the language of Deaf people who went to college.” Who was I to argue with that? I had never thought that ASL would become like English, a language of prestige, one to be used in trade and such. Ben Braithwaithe raises this very point much more eloquently than I just did. – Julie A. Hochgesang

Language Blag

In 2012, I made the short trip to Guyana to meet with members of the Deaf community in the capital, Georgetown, to see some of the work being done by a group then called Deaf in Guyana, now called the Deaf Association of Guyana (DAG), and to do some initial linguistic research. Walking through Georgetown’s beautiful botanical gardens one afternoon, a group of us happened to meet a hearing Nigerian man who had gone to a deaf school as a child in Nigeria (his father was the principal, I think). We chatted together for a while as we waited for a rain shower to pass. We talked about the differences between our countries, about languages and religions. As we talked — a Nigerian, an Englishman, two Trinidadians and one Guyanese, some hearing, some Deaf — the language we used was American Sign Language.

fieldwork guyana

I thought of that trip as I read Julie Hochgesang’s…

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