Black American Sign Language (BASL) is a dialect of American Sign
Language (ASL), usually encountered among deaf African Americans. The
divergence from ASL was influenced largely by segregation in the
American South. Like other schools at the time, schools for the deaf
were segregated by race, creating two language communities: White deaf
signers at White schools and Black deaf signers at Black schools. Today,
BASL is still used by signers in the South despite the gradual
desegregation of deaf schools after 1954, the year of the US Supreme
Court’s Brown v. Board of Education decision declaring racial
segregation in schools unconstitutional. Linguistically, BASL differs
from other varieties of ASL in its phonology, syntax, and lexicon. In
ASL, signs are generally produced near the body, but BASL tends to have
a larger signing space. Signers of BASL also tend to prefer two-handed
variants of signs while signers of ASL tend to prefer one-handed
variants. Some signs are different in BASL as well, with some borrowings
from African American English.
Today’s selected anniversaries:
Otto IV, Holy Roman Emperor was excommunicated by Pope Innocent
III after he commanded the Pope to annul the Concordat of Worms.
Soprano Marie Selika Williams became the first African-American
artist to perform at the White House.
Walt Disney’s Steamboat Willie, the first completely post-
produced synchronized sound animated cartoon, was released.
In the Polish embassy in Moscow Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev
said “We will bury you” while addressing Western envoys, prompting them
to leave the room.
Croatian War of Independence: The Yugoslav People’s Army
captured the Croatian city of Vukovar, ending an 87-day siege.
Wiktionary’s word of the day:
1. Eccentric, strange, or foolish; crazy or insane; kookish.
2. (surfing) Behaving like a kook (a person with poor style or skill);
Wikiquote quote of the day:
The fabric of democracy is always fragile everywhere because it
depends on the will of citizens to protect it, and when they become
scared, when it becomes dangerous for them to defend it, it can go very
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