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This paper will focus on the meaning of signed-language syllables, or the signed-syllable, in American Sign Language (ASL). It is assumed that syllables are applicable to ASL because the phonological representation can be seen in each individual hand movement, and the combined handshapes are collectively interpreted as separate units of pronunciation by native speakers. This is important, because it establishes credibility in the signed language, which is the initial step towards greater ASL accessibility. In America, the Deaf Culture (DC) makes up 13% of the overall population, according to Gallaudet University’s Deaf Statistics research. Upon further statistical deconstruction, the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) has determined that over 90% of deaf children in the United States are born to hearing parents who have had no previous exposure, or knowledge of ASL. Deaf children with hearing parents do not gain access to language during the early stages of development. These children are born with a severe delay in language acquisition, which hinders cognitive development, resulting in lower academic performance. By arguing the presence of syllables in ASL, this paper will raise phonological awareness, while also demonstrating ways in which ASL shares the same meta linguistic elements with spoken English, such as phonology, through cross-linguistic analysis. ASL should be offered as a foreign language option in all educational institutions. My overall goal is to increase metalinguistic skills in deaf children, giving them the same advantage as hearing children.

Keywords: prosody, syllables, American Sign Language, phonology, language acquisition, linguistics


File nameDate UploadedVisibilityFile size
19 Jul 2022
320 kB



  • Subject
    • English

  • Institution
    • Dahlonega

  • Event location
    • Nesbitt 3213

  • Event date
    • 23 March 2018

  • Date submitted

    19 July 2022

  • Additional information
    • Acknowledgements:

      Donna Gessell, Ph.D.