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South African Sign Language

South African Sign Language (SASL) is recognised and used as a first language by a large number of Deaf South Africans. Since 1996, SASL has been officially recognised as the language of learning and teaching for Deaf learners.

Undergraduate Courses

First Year

South African Sign Language: Basic IA

This course introduces the student to basic receptive and expressive skills, based on essential points of grammatical structure and fundamental vocabulary. The format is primarily dialogues and question/answer routines. Language acquisition is complemented throughout with information about the history and culture of the South African Deaf community.

South African Sign Language: Basic IB

This course refines and reinforces skills acquired in the first term, and introduces additional vocabulary as well as more complex grammatical structures. Students will develop the ability to compose and understand simple texts. Language acquisition is complemented with discussion of current issues and trends in the South African Deaf community.

Second Year

South African Sign Language: Intermediate IIA

This course covers aspects of the phonology, morphology and syntax of South Africa Sign Language while strengthening students’ receptive and expressive skills in terms of both grammatical structures and range of vocabulary. Longer (video-recorded) texts will challenge students' receptive skills, expand students’ knowledge of Deaf culture, and provide material for analysis. Policies and legislation impacting on members of the South African Deaf community, including Deaf learners, are investigated in relation to empowerment, social justice and equality.

South African Sign Language: Intermediate IIB

This course covers more advanced aspects of the phonology, morphology and syntax of South African Sign Language and continues to strengthen students receptive and expressive skills. The complex issues underlying the concept of a deaf community are investigated in the South African context.

Third Year

South African Sign Language: Introductory Linguistics

This course explains the basic concepts of South African Sign Language linguistics by introducing the fundamental areas of linguistic inquiry – phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, and the use of language. It enables students who already are fluent in SASL to analyse and think critically about the structure of SASL. Students are exposed to visual texts illustrating these concepts and to a range of readings confirming research results.

South African Sign Language: Advanced III

This course extends the investigation of the structure of South African Sign Language (SASL) to the level of discourse and pragmatics. The expectations for comprehension and production of SASL are commensurate with an advanced level of study. Students will be expected to cope with SASL linguistic and sociolinguistic variation, including regional and social register. They will be expected to create and analyse SASL visual texts.

South African Sign Language Poetry and Storytelling

This course explores South African Deaf community norms for the situationally appropriate and persuasive use of language. Cross-cultural communication between various segments of the community will be analysed to understand what distinguishes these segments and what holds the community together as a whole. These topics will provide the material for the students’ continuing acquisition of vocabulary and grammar.

South African Sign Language Sociolinguistics

Students will compare South African Sign Language (SASL) with other signed languages, both natural and artificial, on the levels of the linguistic system already covered. A comparison will also be made between signed and spoken languages. Historical and typological relationships between SASL and other languages will be examined. Discussion of these topics will provide for the students’ continuing acquisition of vocabulary and grammar.

Postgraduate Programmes

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