Carl Croneberg, a deaf Swedish immigrant who helped write the primary complete dictionary of American Signal Language and was the primary to stipulate the thought of Deaf tradition as a definite a part of society and one price finding out, died on Aug. 11. He was 92.
His loss of life was introduced by Gallaudet College in Washington, D.C., the one college for the hearing-impaired in the USA, the place he earned a level and spent his complete profession. The college didn’t specify the trigger or say the place he died.
Mr. Croneberg was a brand new member of the Gallaudet college when, in 1957, the linguist William C. Stokoe Jr., himself not too long ago arrived on campus, recruited him to affix his new Linguistics Analysis Laboratory. Till the late Fifties, many linguists had dismissed signal language as a poor substitute for spoken language, a inflexible, imprecise system of gestures that left no room for nuance.
Dr. Stokoe, who was listening to, believed in any other case, although he had gone to Gallaudet with no earlier coaching in signal language and no actual publicity to a Deaf group — his specialty was Center English.
But it didn’t take lengthy for him to substantiate his hunch. Whereas present process a crash course in American Signal Language, he seen that the indicators he was studying in school have been generally completely different from what his college students have been utilizing amongst themselves.
The distinction, he was informed, was slang — and in that distinction he noticed the capability for A.S.L. to be each bit as capacious as spoken language. Dr. Stokoe dedicated himself to creating a script, and from that, a dictionary. However to take action he wanted colleagues with native-speaker expertise.
He selected Mr. Croneberg and a second colleague, Dorothy Casterline, each younger instructors at Gallaudet, not solely due to their intelligence, but in addition as a result of, in a means, they have been outsiders, too: Mr. Croneberg grew up in Sweden, Ms. Casterline in Hawaii.
That made it potential for them to each analyze the language in a means that Dr. Stokoe couldn’t entry, but additionally look at its use with a certain quantity of detachment.
Mr. Croneberg’s cost was to evaluate how Deaf individuals deploy signal language in on a regular basis life and across the nation. He traveled all through New England and the South, interviewing Deaf residents and conducting ethnographic investigations, being attentive to how the language knowledgeable their lives.
What he discovered might not have stunned his analysis topics, nevertheless it astounded different linguists. He recognized vital regional variations; the signal for cheese, for instance, was completely different in Washington, D.C., and Virginia. Catholics and Protestants had completely different phrases for a similar spiritual objects. And he discovered completely different dialects amongst young and old, and between Black and white individuals.
“The group of Deaf individuals who use signal language and who’ve roughly frequent social contact with one another extends throughout North America,” he wrote. “However the entire divides into native and regional teams which may be mapped geographically.”
Mr. Croneberg printed his outcomes as two appendices to “A Dictionary of American Signal Language on Linguistic Rules” (1965), which he wrote with Dr. Stokoe and Ms. Casterline, and which turned a seminal textual content amongst Deaf students.
“Stokoe wouldn’t have been capable of do the work with out his colleagues, Carl and Dorothy,” Pamela Wright, who teaches linguistics at Gallaudet, mentioned in an e mail. “It was an ideal mixture of abilities that pulled collectively to check A.S.L. as an genuine language. Stokoe didn’t know indicators, he was nonetheless studying, and Carl and Dorothy have been his connection to the group.”
Ever the linguist, Mr. Croneberg noticed American Signal Language because the core of what he coined “Deaf tradition,” a time period that later generations of researchers constructed into a complete area of examine. And he was among the many first to stipulate Black American Signal Language as a definite dialect.
In recognition of their contributions, Gallaudet introduced Mr. Croneberg and Ms. Casterline with honorary levels in Might 2022.
“Deaf students like those who stand earlier than us at this time are having fun with alternatives for a greater life due to the painstaking analysis performed within the Fifties and early Nineteen Sixties by Mr. Croneberg and his colleagues,” the college mentioned in saying the awards.
Carl Gustav Arvid Olof Croneberg was born on April 26, 1930, in Norrbacka, a small city about 30 miles northeast of Stockholm. Deaf from start, he was despatched by his dad and mom to a specialised college, the place, along with studying Swedish signal language in school, he taught himself written English and German by a correspondence college.
An opportunity encounter with Leonard M. Elstad, the president of Gallaudet, who was touring in Europe, persuaded Mr. Croneberg to come back to America to check on the college, in response to analysis by Carey Ballard, a doctoral pupil in linguistics at Boston College. Mr. Croneberg arrived in 1951 and graduated with a level in English 4 years later.
He was instantly employed as a junior college member whereas he took graduate research on the close by Catholic College of America. He acquired a grasp’s diploma in English there in 1959, however regardless of excessive grades and Dr. Stokoe’s robust suggestion, he was not admitted to the college’s doctoral program in anthropology as a result of its director thought it might be too tough for a deaf particular person.
He continued to show English at Gallaudet, and over time turned an inspiration for a brand new technology of linguists and students of Deaf research, who created packages and departments at Boston College; California State College, Northridge; and different establishments.
Mr. Croneberg retired in 1986. Survivors embrace his spouse, Eleanor (Wetzel) Croneberg, and his daughter, Lisa Croneberg.