Developed by Mark Halley

Competencies Addressed: Spatial Structuring; Message Coherence

Time Required for Activity: 20 mins


To learn about Informal Register in an ASL text.

In this video, Lizzie Sorkin invites community members to submit proposals for workshops at the upcoming NAD biennial conference.


You will watch a video in which Lizzie Sorkin, Director of Communications at the National Association of the Deaf, invites viewers to submit proposals for workshops at the upcoming NAD biennial conference in 2018.

  • What do you think Lizzie might talk about?
  • What types of proposals would you predict would be of interest to people attending the NAD conference?

Watch the Video:  Watch the video in its entirety. Be sure to watch with the captions off. Pay attention to Lizzie’s use of language, and consider how you might describe her linguistic register. (For more information on register in English, check out this activity.)

  • In what ways is Lizzie’s language formal?
  • How does she use informal features of language?
  • Finally, consider how and why Lizzie structure her language in such a way.  Who is her audience, and what are their linguistic expectations?


Watch the Video Again:  Watch the video again. If there is anything you still cannot understand, consider turning on the captions.

Now, see if you can identify any other linguistic features in Lizzie’s signing that suggest a formal or informal signing style.

Finally, consider the reasons Lizzie might have signed this way and how it might impact an interpretation or translation of the video.

  • Was Lizzie trying to engage in a culturally appropriate way with viewers?
  • What strategies might you use to reflect this engagement if you were asked to caption the video in English?
  • Finally, watch the video with the captions turned on. Consider how Lizzie’s use of language is reflected in the captions. If you were asked to translate and caption the video, would you have made any different decisions? Why?