In this unit sample of the online ASL classes, you will be learning about handshape stories and Deaf jokes.
Deaf/ASL Art and Literature Lesson
The Deaf highly value the literature and art of their culture. Deaf Culture art and literature is how the Deaf share their values with future generations – their values of sign language and deafness, Deaf education, Deaf experiences, Deaf pride, and more.
ASL Handshape Stories
Handshape stories are a creative and more simple form of storytelling and poetry in ASL. Handshape stories are stories that are signed using the letters of the alphabet, numbers, or other handshapes.
The same way that hearing children learn parts of language through songs, Deaf children learn this through Deaf literature. For example, with handshape stories, Deaf children can play around with and learn each letter of the alphabet when learning a story.
There are three kinds of handshape stories:
- ABC Stories – ABC stories use only the handshapes of the manual alphabet in order from A to Z.
- Number Stories – Number stories are like ABC stories, but use numbers instead of letters in a pattern.
- One Handshape Stories – One-handshape stories are stories that use only one handshape throughout the entire story.
When signing these stories, you need to follow all grammatical rules as well as keep it in an organized sequence.
You can see two examples of handshapes stories in our full course.
Not only are handshape stories a fun way to play with the language of ASL, but they are also very educational for Deaf children and a truly special way to pass down cultural stories and values through the generations.
Deaf jokes are also an essential part of Deaf literature and are usually passed down “orally”.
There are two main types of jokes in Deaf culture. The first type is a joke in which the Deaf person wins. These jokes don’t necessarily make fun of hearing people, but they favor Deaf culture and the Deaf way of life.
An example of this type of joke is one about a Deaf couple at a motel:
A deaf couple check into a motel and go to bed early. The wife wakes her husband in the middle of the night complaining of a headache. She asks him to go to the car to get some aspirin from the glove compartment. Groggy with sleep, he struggles to get up, puts on his robe, and leaves the room to go to the car. He finds the aspirin, and with the bottle in hand he turns toward the motel. But he cannot remember which room is his. After thinking a moment, he returns to the car, places his hand on the horn, holds it down, and waits. Very quickly the motel rooms light up… all but one. It’s his wife’s room, of course. He locks up his car and heads toward the only room without a light on.
In this joke, the Deaf person “wins” because he is deaf.
The second type is a joke related to the linguistics of ASL. For example, the production or mis-production of a sign can be humorous in certain situations.
An example of this type of joke is one about King Kong and a young lady:
This joke is funny because the sign for “marry” is one hand coming down and clasping the other. So, the production of this sign caused King Kong to crush his new love.
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