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american sign language

after the new language tools come out will it be possible to do asl ( american sign language )

October 3, 2013



We don't know exactly how the tools are going to work, so we can't tell for sure.


Probably not unless you can teach it over the computer...


well i was just wandering because they were thinking about doing flash cards and if they do they could show the hand placment for each letter but your right it would pretty hard


Knowing the alphabet in sign language (which you can easily find on many other sites) is only a small step. While technically you can spell a word out and be understood, could you imagine having a conversation where you had to spell every single word? Think about how long that would take and how much effort would be required to watch a string of letters and then convert it into a meaningful word in your head. If you truly want to communicate, you need to learn the vocabulary just like any other language.

Grammar and sentence structures in ASL are also very different than spoken English. Many words are condensed and omitted. While you can be understood using spoken English sentence structures, it takes a lot longer to communicate that way and may be confusing at times. To show the contrast:

Spoken English: I am going to the store. Would you like to go?

ASL: I store go you?

ASL is flexible, so it could be signed differently (adding details or different structure), but that's just an example.


Actually, the usual way to sign "I am going to the store. Would you like to so?" would be "Store I go. You?"


I was also wondering about this because I want to learn ASL. Seems like it would be possible if video was used instead of text. But we'll see.


I know ASL and it's incredibly hard to learn from pictures. Most signs involve movement, which is very hard to convey with a 2 dimensional still picture. Most ASL books provide a description to help you understand, which helps with most signs. But even with that I've had a few signs that I learned incorrectly or still couldn't figure out and had to get help from a deaf person.

It would be possible with videos, but obviously Duolingo is not set up to do that right now. Even if it was set up for videos, it would be time intensive for people to record all of the videos for each sentence and variation. That takes a lot longer than someone typing sentences in another language. It also requires experts that are willing to show themselves on video to the world. Plus, there would be no way for you to sign something and have Duolingo verify that what you did was right or not.

There are lots of resources out there if you want to learn sign language. You will make better progress if you can connect with deaf people (which are usually very patient with people trying to learn). But it's not a language I expect to see on Duolingo soon (but maybe in the more distant future).


This would be cool - using video and written ASL with (as I assume would be used for all non-roman-alphabet-based writing systems) English glosses as needed? Hm.


ASL actually does not have a written component. Most native signers of ASL are at least bilingual in that they sign in ASL and read and write in English.


I would modify that statement to say "ASL does not have a commonly-used written component." There is the problem of trying to input ASL into a machine reader to codify into an online version. The closest system that I have seen that could be used in keyboard inputs and/or text-tracer inputs would be the system found at http://www.si5s.org/


That is interesting. I have never heard of that before. Thanks!


People have mentioned that it would be difficult to learn ASL from still images. That is likely true, but if a large collection of videos featuring signs (like those in the ASL dictionary used for SMARTsign --check out: http://www.cats.gatech.edu/content/smartsign) were incorporated, this functionality might be possible.


animated gifs might be easier on the data plans, too.

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