Difference in Languages

American Sign Language (ASL) is its own unique language, complete with its own grammar and structure that is unrelated to English. Merely signing the words of a set of instructions does not adequately convey the meaning of what needs to be understood. It is because of this issue that we strongly suggest the best way to do testing is by a fluent signer (not someone who signs a little or even a lot, but someone who has native fluency) who is well trained in the protocols of the tests to be given. If this is not possible, then at the very least the utilization of a certified interpreter who has been given ample prep time to become familiar with the test materials and truly understands what is important to be communicated and/or not communicated. We have designed this website as a possible tool for preparing for the use of these specific tests or as a way to think about potential issues you want to have planned for before using some other tests.

 

Lexical Differences Between English and ASL

American Sign Language (ASL), like any other language, has some "borrowed" items that exist within it. In ASL shows itself primarily in the use of fingerspelling to communicate a concept for which there is a single word in English, but no single lexical sign in ASL. Fingerspelling itself is a means of presenting each individual letter in an English word using a direct handshape-to-letter 'code'. Because of this, we've had to modify certain parts of the test battery so as not to rely on a subject's command of English orthography. Since we're testing explicitly for aphasia for ASL signs, scenarios where fingerspelling might substitue for signs could muddy the picture, adding another level of complexity. In these instances, we've attempted to modify the vocabulary of the tests so that they rely on lexical signs as much as possible. If a query presented to a subject lacks lexical signs, then having them generate a response that involves fingerspelling potentially becomes a different task.

 

Regional Variation in Signs

Many concepts have a number of sign variations depending on where in the country you live. There are a number of reasons for this. We will not go into them here, but rather emphasize that from the standpoint of making sure any number of examiners have the best chance of understanding what the subject might be saying, we have attempted to remove items that have too much regional variation and replace them with items that are used consistently on a national basis. We expect that this will also make it easier to use these tests by a variety of people without the examiner having to be well versed in all the possible regional variations of a particular sign.

 

Home/Appendix/Differences in Languages