American Sign Language (ASL) is a rich, expressive language with a long living history in America and its roots in pre-revolutionary France. Not until the 1960’s did the language receive the recognition it has long deserved when an inquisitive English Professor named William Stokoe recognized the rich linguistic properties of the sign language. Before that time, Sign Language, or the language of signs as it was then called, was easily dismissed, not recognized as a language because it is not spoken. After all, the word language comes from the Latin word “Lingua” meaning tongue. It was common thinking of the times to associate language only with speaking. Dr. Stokoe, as a student of the language, quickly discovered that Sign Language is “Not Mouth Stuff; It’s Brain Stuff!”
It was from that dawn of awareness among linguists and native signers alike, that the language has come to be known as American Sign Language and has become the subject of much research and renown.