“Father of ASL Linguistics”

by Julie


(USA)

After reading this article, I decided to look into the life of William Stokoe because the work he did for Gallaudet as well as the development of American Sign Language interested me. I believe that he played an integral part in growing the deaf community and working to make American Sign Language an official language.

Before I started this course, I was not aware of all of the controversy surrounding deaf culture, but had only known that American Sign Language was used to communicate with the deaf. Without William Stokoe, I would not even had known this since ASL only became validated once he proved that it was a language with its own phonology, morphology, syntax, and semantics, which are the classifications of a mature and legitimate language.

By studying the semantics of ASL at Gallaudet and writing his dissertation, “Sign Language Structure,” he was able to demonstrate that American Sign Language was indeed a real language and beneficial to deaf people. He overcame much oppression from people who supported oralism as well as Gallaudet University, who shut down his study because they were not in favor of ASL at the time.

Because of William Stokoe, ASL is recognized as a language which greatly helps to improve deaf communication as well as bring awareness to deaf culture. Without the “Father of ASL Linguistics,” the deaf community would be very different and would lack the representation of a beautiful language.