A Historical and Etymological Dictionary of American Sign Language

A Historical and Etymological Dictionary of American Sign Language

A Historical and Etymological Dictionary of American Sign Language

The story of how American Sign Language (ASL) came to be is almost mythic. In the early 19th century, a hearing American reverend, Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet, met a Deaf French educator, Laurent Clerc, who agreed to come to the United States and help establish the first school in America to use sign language to teach deaf children. The trail of ASL’s development meanders at this point. No documentation of early ASL was published until the late 19th century, almost seven decades after the school’s founding. While there are many missing pieces in the history of America’s sign language, plenty of data exist regarding ASL etymology. This book is the first to collect all known texts featuring illustrations of early ASL and historical images of French Sign Language—langue des signes française (LSF)—and link them with contemporary signs.

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