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Semiotics analysis of ASL poetry

 Digital Work
Identifier: ds_0049_campbellsemiotics_cap_01.mp4


  • Creation: 2000



Cynthia Campbell shares her research on the semiotics of ASL Poetry, analyzing a seemingly simple poem, Cow and Rooster by Clayton Valli signed by a young girl. She explains that in teaching hearing students ASL they had a difficult time making a transition to using sign language smoothly. Her research question relates to improving the teaching of ASL by asking Deaf people what is considered excellent storytelling or poetry. They were not able to give her examples, so this became part of her research question. She analyzes Cow and Rooster by using some semiotic principles as outlined by 19th century philosopher Charles Sanders Pierce: symbols, icons, and index (as it pertains to ASL). She found rich analysis in this poem: body stance and shift to indicate different characters, handshape patterns of 3 (rooster), Y (cow) and 5 (farm) signed in different spatial areas, and discovered metonymy (icon and index)-- and a pattern of in the narrative structure. English text has a different pattern as compared to ASL signs, thus more research is needed to see how Deaf and hearing people process language and if it is different, how to improve teaching of ASL to hearing students.


244 Megabytes (mp4)


Sign Languages


General Note

This material was digitized as part of a CLIR Hidden Collections grant: "Sculptures in the Air: An Accessible Online Video Repository of the American Sign Language (ASL) Poetry and Literature Collections at the RIT/NTID Deaf Studies Archive (RIT/NTID DSA) in Rochester, NY." Original VHS recordings were transferred to mp4 format, captioned, and voiced, by the National Technical Institute for the Deaf Production Services department.

Repository Details

Part of the RIT Archives Repository

Rochester NY 14623 USA