Reading the Signs: Sign Language

By April 21, 2017Culture, Language

Various languages have, since time immemorial, been the mode of communication between people. These languages have evolved over time and today we see a large language map which has many language families and dialects. These are mostly verbal and written. But what about a large part of world population that is hard of hearing or has hearing and speaking disabilities?

Sign language is a visual means of communication that uses hand gestures and facial expressions. It is mainly used by people who have hearing or speech impairments.

There are about 70 million deaf people who use sign language as their first language or mother tongue. Each country has one or sometimes two or more sign languages, although different sign languages can share the same linguistic roots in the same way as spoken languages do.

 

Sign languages have supposedly existed as long as spoken languages. No one has invented them but they have arisen spontaneously through time by unrestricted interactions among people who use them as a primary communication system.

Difference between sign and spoken languages is in different modalities they use. Signed languages are visual-gestural languages, while spoken languages are auditory-vocal languages. Forms of sign languages consist of sequences of movements and configurations of the hands and arms, face, and upper torso. The forms of spoken languages consist of sounds produced by sequences of movements and configurations of the mouth and vocal tract.

The status of sign language varies in each country, therefore, the legislators and governments understand the roles of sign languages in different ways. In some countries the rights of Deaf people to education and equal participation in the society are secured by legislation.

Contrary to popular belief, sign language is not a universal language. Like spoken languages, sign languages around the world are different.
International Sign (Language), formerly known as Gestuno, is an artificially devised sign language. International Sign is composed of vocabulary signs from different sign languages that Deaf people agreed to use at international events and meetings such as the World Federation of the Deaf (WFD) congress, events such as the Deaflympics, in video clips produced by Deaf people and watched by other Deaf people from around the world, and informally when travelling and socialising. International Sign is a term used by the World Federation of the Deaf and other international organisations. The need to standardise an international sign system was discussed at the first World Deaf Congress in 1951, when the WFD was formed.

Every country has its own sign language based on the local spoken languages and culture. Many are standardized while some are not, owing to cultural and geographical diversity.

American Sign Language (ASL)

American Sign Language (ASL) is a complete, complex language that employs signs made by moving the hands combined with facial expressions and postures of the body. It is the primary language of many North Americans who are deaf and is one of several communication options used by people who are deaf or hard-of-hearing.

British Sign Language (BSL)

The common form of Sign language used in Britain is called British Sign Language (BSL). It has its own grammatical structure and syntax and is not totally dependent on spoken English. It is the preferred language of around 145,000 people in the UK.

Sign Supported English (SSE)

This is another form of sign language used in Britain. It uses the same signs as BSL but the signs are used in the same order as spoken English. It is generally used in schools where children with hearing impairments are studying alongside students who can hear and speak.

Auslan

Auslan is the language of the deaf community in Australia. Auslan was not invented by any single person, hearing or deaf. Auslan has evolved from the sign languages brought to Australia during the nineteenth century from Britain and Ireland. Auslan has been called a dialect of British Sign Language (BSL).

Fingerspelling

This is a method of spelling words using hand movements. It is used in sign language to spell out names of people or places for which there is no particular sign. It can also be used to spell words for signs that the signer or a sign reader does not know. BSL uses a two-handed alphabet whereas ASL uses a one-handed alphabet.

Persons with hearing or speech impairments must have equal opportunity of expression, communication and comprehension as all other individuals. Sign languages help them participate in the mainstream and ensure prospects for growth and learning.

 

Reading the Signs: Sign Language

By | Culture, Language | No Comments
Various languages have, since time immemorial, been the mode of communication between people. These languages have evolved over time and today we see a large language map which has many language families and dialects. These are mostly verbal and written. But what about a large part of world population that is hard of hearing or has hearing and speaking disabilities?

Sign language is a visual means of communication that uses hand gestures and facial expressions. It is mainly used by people who have hearing or speech impairments. Read More

Words

Play On Words, or With Them

By | Language | No Comments
Word Play is verbal wit- the manipulation of language with the intent to amuse. Sounds and meanings of words are exploited resulting in funny remarks. It has a wider use orally than in written text but literature has always been full of word play.

Examples of this literary technique include puns, double entendres, tongue twisters, etc. We often engage in wordplay such as jokes and witty remarks during casual conversations among friends and colleagues. Read More

Decoding English Proficiency Tests

By | Language | No Comments
Most of us have gone through the long and cumbersome process of filling applications, submitting resumes, writing SOPs and taking English Proficiency Tests when applying to universities. For those of us, who may not have had English as a medium of study or those who do not belong to countries where English is the first or second language, it is required that we take certain exams to prove our English fluency when we wish to study in certain universities. These institutions ask for our test scores to make sure we will be able to handle the medium of instruction and therefore, be able to study and perform well. Although various language proficiency tests exist to gauge performance ability in many languages across the world, let us take a look at the various English proficiency tests. Read More

5 Books for Language Lovers

By | Language, Literature | No Comments
Following on from 21 Words for Book Lovers, we have played the old switcheroo and found 5 books you word lovers will adore…

For many human beings words form part of our communication, and without them many of us would be lost. Language fascinates, frustrates, and entices us. As Reading Addicts it is part of our daily ritual to fall head first into pages upon pages of the written word and get lost in there for hours.

We often find ourselves re-reading an elegantly constructed sentence just to feel it trip through the mind a few more times. Other times our knowledge fails us and we reach for a dictionary, feeling that small thrill of learning a new piece of lexiconic excellence.

Your fellow language lovers at For Reading Addicts have collated a list of language-orientated books we think you may find useful or enjoyable as you continue your quest of expanding your mind through literature.

Please peruse and enjoy!

Read More

Bees Don’t Spell: The Origins of the Spelling Bee

By | Language | No Comments
At one point or another during our schooling years, we have all been part of Spelling competitions held in class or at an inter-school level. These are often known as Spelling Bee contests though heaven knows what bees have to do with spelling words like we do!

A Spelling bee is a competition in which contestants are asked to spell a broad selection of words, usually with a varying degree of difficulty. The concept is thought to have originated in the United States and spelling bee events are now held in many other countries around the world. Read More



Leave a Reply