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 value learning, died on Aug. 7. He was 92.
His loss of life was introduced by Gallaudet College in Washington, D.C., the one college for the deaf or onerous of listening to in the US, 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 hitch 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 observed that the indicators he was studying at school had been generally completely different from what his college students had been utilizing amongst themselves.
The distinction, he was advised, 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 manner, they had been outsiders, too: Mr. Croneberg grew up in Sweden, Ms. Casterline in Hawaii.
That made it attainable for them to each analyze the language in a manner that Dr. Stokoe couldn’t entry, but additionally look at its use with a specific amount 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, however 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 revealed 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 in a position to do the work with out his colleagues, Carl and Dorothy,” Pamela Wright, who teaches linguistics at Gallaudet, stated in an e-mail. “It was an ideal mixture of abilities that pulled collectively to review A.S.L. as an genuine language. Stokoe didn’t know indicators, he was nonetheless studying, and Carl and Dorothy had 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 whole 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 Could 2022.
“Deaf students like those who stand earlier than us at the moment are having fun with alternatives for a greater life because of the painstaking analysis carried out within the Fifties and early Nineteen Sixties by Mr. Croneberg and his colleagues,” the college stated in asserting 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 delivery, he was despatched by his dad and mom to a specialised college, the place, along with studying Swedish signal language at school, he taught himself written English and German by way of 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 review on the college, in keeping with analysis by Carey Ballard, a analysis assistant 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 advice, 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 era of linguists and students of Deaf research, who created applications and departments at Boston College; California State College, Northridge; and different establishments.
Mr. Croneberg retired in 1986. Survivors embody his spouse, Eleanor (Wetzel) Croneberg; his daughters, Lisa and Margaret Croneberg; and his son, Eric.