Second, what is the purpose of language learning? Those in the humanities see language learning to be a way for students to broaden perspectives and expand educational experiences by learning a language not native to them.
Dom's suggestion that university recognition of ASL is a "watering down of any kind of standards" that detracts from "preparing our students for the new global economy," simply comes from a lack of understanding of the transnational linguistic and cultural potential of learning ASL or any signed language.
Dom's comments suggest a fundamental misunderstanding of ASL and suggests the common misperception that it's a signed version of English. Not only is ASL linguistically a complete human language with elaborate grammar independent of English, it's actually historically related to signed French and is in little-to-no way related to English with the exception of the "borrowing" of finger-spelled words-which has linguistic parallels in spoken languages.
I take Dom's response as evidence of his misunderstanding of, but not disdain for, a language and culture not his own. Should he wish to sit in on a class to experience the linguistic and cultural complexities of ASL, I invite him to do so.
Jami Fisher, American Sign Language Coordinator
University of Pennsylvania