This term is used to describe the blending of ASL and English, although the mixture is not considered a true pidgin because every signer will combine the two languages differently. Some users of PSE follow models similar to certain types of manually coded English, though generally without articles and verb suffixes. Others use nearly all the grammatical features of ASL, but leave out some of the finger points of the language. Most PSE users, though, will vary widely along that spectrum, changing the degree of blending to suit the situation.

Probably the vast majority of people who use PSE are hearing individuals who have learned sign language after already mastering written and spoken English. Because they are so very used to English syntax, they typically revert to it when unaware of the correct ASL grammar; they may also mouth all or part of their signing because they are so used to speaking the words. Deaf people who were raised orally or using Signed English will generally use PSE in the same manner as hearing people. Those who speak ASL fluently are often also familiar with PSE, and will commonly use it when talking when a hearing signer is present.

Because it is a contact language, the term "contact sign" is sometimes used as an alternative for "Pidgin Sign English."


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