Hi Kayleen! Glad you asked. I love talking about stuff like this.
American Sign Language (ASL) is not a universal language--it's used in American and Canada. Other countries have completely different signed languages.
Yes, certainly many (most) Deaf learn to read and write English. But because ASL is a completely different language, it is like if Spanish didn't have a written language. Mexicans would have to translate their folklore and stories and anything else into English before they could write it down.
Once you change something into another language, it looses the cadence, idioms, inside jokes, plays on words...many of the things that make the story really what it is are lost when you change to another language.
ASL is visual. What rhymes to the eye (i.e. two signs with similar movements "rhyme") does not rhyme to the ear once you translate the two words into a spoken or written English. Jokes, such as the one about a giant who found a beautiful normal-sized girl, picked her up in his palm, and then asked her to marry him, aren't funny in English--it doesn't make sense until you realize that the sign "marry" would have resulted in the girl getting smashed between his palms.
However, now that technology is advanced enough that everyone has access to video cameras, finally ASL stories can be preserved in the original language.
So, does the desire for a written language special to SL come from wanting/needing it to be universal? I've been thinking about it since yesterday and am wondering if that's maybe kinda what's behind it.....? It intrigues me that there is such a thing as "Gloss" because (this conversation would be so much easier in person! lol)....well, let me say first that I TOTALLY understand how that starting from the deaf perspective is WAY different than being a hearing, English-speaking person learning SL....so, that said.....I know not all deaf individuals learn how to read, but many do, so, obviously, they can use our written language if they want....but I can understand wanting kind of your own thing if you're deaf. But still, written English certainly conveys a lot just fine, so it would *seem* to be sufficient, and the question would be, why not just go with what already is, especially since we can communicate fine without special markings and such(?)(tho that sort of thing actually is a smart idea). But SL IS concept/picture-based, so that plays a huge role in this I know....
Anyhow, so for a separate SL written language--is the goal that it be universal, and thus be able to convey not only the concept, but also, like you mentioned with Gloss, emphasis (gestures, expressions) and such to *anyone* deaf?
Sorry--as you can tell, I'm just trying to think through this. This is entirely fascinating!!
Reliable Kay, my profile just says music because the option had those three things as one option--"Artistic / Musical / Writer". While I love to sing, I don't do anything professionally with my voice. I'm a freelance writer. Though really, since I make almost no money at it at this point, I'm not sure it qualifies as an occupation. LOL!
Laura, I live in the Southwest of Washington.
Amy W., I've been playing around with signs since I was young, but taking formal lessons for about five years.