Sign language is more than just hand signals. Find out why
At GearTranslations, we’re all about languages.
But what about sign language?
This week celebrates Deaf Awareness Week! Created in Rome, 1958, it aims to bring deaf people together so they can share their experiences and achievements, voice their concerns and raise awareness to others who may not know much about this.
Using your hands has always been a way to accentuate communication and express ideas. Imagine what it would have been like to be deaf before sign language was developed. Many people were mistreated and isolated. Now, sign language has helped the deaf to become more educated and communicate just as efficiently as those who can hear. It ended the discrimination!
Sign language is on the rise. More and more tv programmes are adapting to deaf viewers by incorporating sign language. You’ll have seen a man or a woman in the corner of the screen using sign language to explain what is happening in the programme. Many people who aren’t deaf are also learning it either as a hobby or to communicate with deaf friends.
But did you know that what they are communicating does not represent spoken language? This is because a lot of sign languages have been developed by Deaf communities that have been deaf since birth.
American Sign Language (ASL) was created in 1817 at the American School for the Deaf. However, sign languages are different in most countries so someone who has learnt ASL would not probably not be able to understand someone who uses French sign language.
There can also be more than one signed language in a country. Take Spain for example — they have sign languages specific to either Spanish or Catalan. However, an international communication system is used for specific meetings and events where there may be multiple sign languages. This is called the International Sign.
Think that sign language is only about hand signals? Think again! Each sign language have their own grammatical structure and syntaxes. This makes them just as complex as verbal languages. Interestingly put by MentalFloss — If you make a grammatical error in sign language does that mean you have a ‘foreign’ accent?!
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If you’d like to know more about sign languge then here are some really interesting websites: