Sign Language Science: Factors Contributing to Natural Change

This course describes how we use historical data to demonstrate language change. While earliest indications suggest that the origin of a signed language began as a gestural form, it has evolved as it was handed down.

Sign Language Science: Factors Contributing to Natural Change
This course is archived
Estimated 4 weeks
3–5 hours per week
Self-paced
Progress at your own speed

About this course

Skip About this course

In this course, we will explore how language changes over time. We know from documentation that early ASL does not look the same as it does today. The earliest indications suggest that it originated as gesture, but that’s not what people learn today. That’s because, as it was passed down, it evolved and changed. In this course, we will look at the historical data and discuss how the language changed.

At a glance

What you'll learn

Skip What you'll learn
  • Describe how ASL looked like in its inception
  • Describe influences on the grammar of ASL by consistent contact with the English language
  • Describe syntax and morphology in early ASL
  • Describe what scholars of 19th century ASL know about ASL grammar
  • Compare trends of change along the timeline of ASL evolution

About the instructors