Have in ASL

March 10, 2024
David Sunnyside

Have () is a grammatical auxiliary verb in ASL. It's used to indicate possession, ownership, or control. It can also be used to express time or duration.

Like other languages, ASL is constantly changing and growing. However, because ASL is relatively new compared to spoken English, changes happen much faster. There are many factors that can influence this rate of change, such as the number of speakers, the age of the speakers, and the presence of other influences on ASL such as slang and idioms.

During her summer internship at Harvard University in 2016, Mandy Houghton had an experience that rocked her world and changed the way she thought about ASL. As a Deaf science teacher, she was used to learning about physics and quantum mechanics from professors who interpreted for her in her science classes at the Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind. The interpreters at the Center for Integrated Quantum Materials, however, signed scientific concepts in a very different way.

The difference was subtle, but the impact was profound. Houghton realized that the interpreters were expressing their own cultural values in the way they used ASL, and that these cultural preferences were influencing how other people would interpret the content of their conversations. In other words, the culturally specific ways that ASL speakers use the language are a critical part of its linguistic identity.

David Sunnyside
Co-founder of Urban Splatter • Digital Marketer • Engineer • Meditator
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