This workshop presented by Professor Andrew Byrne during Deaf Awareness week at Lamar University, Beaumont, Texas, featured a fascinating description about the linguistic structure, origin and history of the process of “naming” in the Deaf community. Professor Byrne stated that there are many errors made by hearing people who assign name signs to deaf children that are not linguistically accurate. He emphasized that name signs should always be given to hearing persons by a member of the Deaf community. Using the history of his own Deaf family, the families of his Deaf colleagues and the work of the Deaf linguist, Dr. Sam Supalla of the University of Arizona, in the “The Book of Names Signs: Naming in the Deaf Community,” (published by Dawn Sign Press. 1992), Professor Byrne described the two broad categories and the nine different rules that should be followed in assigning name signs.
In his workshop, Professor Byrne stressed the notion that name signs have high value and are used for identification purposes within the Deaf community. The name signs mark the person’s membership in the Deaf community for a lifetime. Name signs signal respect for Deaf heritage. Those interested in more information about name signs can read Dr. Sam Supalla’s book or contact Professor Byrne in the Dept of Deaf Studies/Deaf Education at Lamar.
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