Hey, I am Coach G! I want to make some points about functional words like “to," “be," “by," “of," etc. I want to raise awareness and have it to be recognized that ASL isn’t limited but has a range. C’mon!
ASL Tests: Point 1. I saw something was off when some ASL tests actually would deduct points if one signs a sentence this way, “this was published by me.” Points would be deducted because the word “by” is used. It would have to be limited in translating to this, “this was published who me” or “I published this.” Does this have to be the only option or else points are deducted? Seriously? No!
Instead of assuming that ASL must have functional words be eliminated completely or else it will be accused as following English, recognize that ASL has its own standard of whether to include functional words or not. It has its range of specifications from including functional words to translating them. Is ASL that limited? No. It comes naturally in a range of options. Right? C’mon!
PSE & ASL: Point 2: I saw something was off when there would be a misunderstanding that including functional words like “of” would be considered as PSE (Pidgin Signing English), not ASL. For example, “they live north of Mexico.” It would be viewed as not possible in ASL due to the functional word “of”. Therefore, it would have to be translated in this way, “by Mexico, they live north above it.” Does ASL have to be limited to only describing something visually, and not allowing a quick, simple statement? Seriously? No!
To clarify, the term “pidgin” of PSE (Pidgin Signing English) means two people or groups use a second language instead of their first language to communicate with linguistic limits. This is likely to happen on a far away island where language resources and internet are lacking, resulting in communicating with linguistic limits. PSE has nothing to do with ASL. Pidgin can’t be part of its language origin. ASL is a well built language and has some English influence from day one. This doesn’t mean functional words are overused. Instead, use ASL as precisely as the language range of how people in the United States and most of Canada sign. Right? C’mon!
My Experience: Point 3: I saw something was off when I saw myself after I practiced with an open mind and completely eliminated functional words like “to”. I did it because of the ASL teaching philosophy in general. For example with the sentence, “Open your heart to me," the functional word “to” would have to be translated in this way, “have your heart open and shown towards me”. What if someone just wants to say this in a simple, quick way like signing it this way, “open your heart to me.” Does ASL have to be limited to making this sentence so flowery? Seriously? No!
Allow ASL to range from simple and straightforward to translating poetically. The made up rule of limiting ASL to one part of a narrow range has to go. Let’s teach ASL with its true language range. Right? C’mon!
ASL Teaching: Point 4: I saw something was off how ASL teaching in general would consider the functional word “have” as acceptable when actually the word “have” is similar to other functional words. They have their range of translation. For example, in this sentence, “I have seen you.” The word “have” is translated to signing “finish” like this, “I have seen you.” This concept applies to other functional words where they also have their translating range. Are you still resistant? Seriously? No!
Instead of maintaining that the functional word “have” eliminated completely from ASL would be difficult while completely eliminating other functional words would be possible, respect that ASL has its range of specifications. Let’s embrace the way ASL is. Right? C’mon!
ASL Acing: Point 5: I saw something was off how acting in ASL in general would have spelling functional words like “be” completely eliminated. For example with this sentence, “be a good person," the word “be” cannot be used and would have to be translated by signing this way, “act like a good person.” Does acting in ASL have to be limited to being lengthy and decorative to where we, the Deaf audience, would find it uneasy to follow? Seriously? No!
Instead of making it difficult to comprehend, we want to be able to focus on following a story with clear messages and enjoy it. Instead of acting in ASL voided of functional words completely, do it in the way common ASL does it. Keep it simple and clear! Right? C’mon!
In short, functional words are actually part of ASL. This doesn’t mean functional words have to be included in every sentence. ASL people use the language in a diverse range. Some will go more left. Some will go more right. It is total diversity. Embrace the language benefits and the great wide range! Right? C’mon!