Communication is a fundamental aspect of human interaction, and while spoken language serves as the primary means for many, there exists a rich and diverse world of communication that transcends the auditory realm. Enter the realm of Sign Language Alphabets—a captivating and nuanced system that empowers the deaf and hard of hearing to express themselves with profound depth and clarity. In this exploration, we embark on a journey to unravel the intricacies of Sign Language Alphabets, delving into their history, significance, and the profound impact they have on fostering inclusivity and understanding within our global society.
The first stage in learning sign language is often learning the letters in sign form. When you use your fingers to spell out words, you’re using sign language.
Letters in various scripts are represented by a wide variety of icons. Some alphabets utilize two-handed signs, whilst others employ one-handed signs. British Sign Language, New Zealand Sign Language, and Ausland Sign Language (Australian Sign Language) all utilize two-handed signs, for instance. These languages form what is known as the BANZSL Language Family. The Turkish Sign Language is yet another bimanual syllabary.
One hand is the dominant hand and the other is the subordinate hand when using two hands to sign. The latter often performs a less complex or mechanically similar action. The dominating hand is placed either above or next to the subservient hand, and signs are used to represent alphabetic symbols.
American Sign Language (ASL) and French Sign Language (LSF) both employ one-handed fingerspelling.
ASL (American Sign Language)
The American Sign Language is the most widely used sign language in the world.
Naturally, it is the most extensively used sign language in the United States of America.
There are both manual and nonmanual components to this sign language, making it comprehensive. Nonmanual features, also known as nonmanual signals, are sign language aspects that do not contain hand movements, such as facial expressions, brow movement, head tilting, and body moving. Verbs, adjectives, and adverbs are modified by adverbs.
As was previously said, ASL is related to Old French Sign Language but uses the same alphabet as English. This results in a pronunciation that differs from standard American English.
LSF (French Sign Language)
French Sign Language, also known as Langues des Signes Française in French, is the sign language of deaf populations in France and portions of Switzerland that speak French.
There’s a crazy tale behind LSF. Abbé Charles Michel de l’Epée taught deaf twin sisters in 1760. Over time, Abbé learned the sisters’ sign language and could understand their conversations. Soon after, he founded the National Institute for the Deaf. Yet the current LSF is the result of the language’s progressive development throughout time.
It’s hard to exaggerate the value of body language and facial emotions. For instance, a frown might indicate an inquiry. Time might be represented by the motion of the hands. The future is represented by the person’s front, and the past by the back of their shoulder.
The language evolves daily as new words are added and the influence of French is felt.
Sign Language in the United Kingdom
The language of British Sign Language consists of intricate gestures of the hands, face, and body.
Since the 15th century, sign language has been recorded in written form. Until the 1940s, it was against the law to teach kids how to sign, so they had to resort to lip reading instead. The British government officially acknowledged BSL as a language in 2003, after many years of persecution.
Various regional variations of BSL are recognized. For instance, a deaf person in England can misinterpret some Scottish signals. There are some key differences between American Sign Language and British Sign Language (BSL).
The grammar and syntax of BSL are unique. This is the method used to build elaborate phrases. The issue is introduced first, followed by the comment, in this format, which allows for more in-depth conversation.
As previously stated, BSL shares its sign language with Australian Sign Language and New Zealand Language, establishing the BANZSL Language Family.
Sign Language in Spanish
Despite the fact that Spain has several dialects and sign languages, such as Catalan Sign Language and Valencian Sign Language, the majority of the deaf people in Spain use Spanish Sign Language. Despite this, there are many similarities between these tongues.
Like other sign languages, Spanish Sign Language does not use the same sentence structure as Spanish. It is descended from the LSF Family and dates back to the 16th century. While the Latin alphabet was rejected, the Spanish alphabet was embraced.
Sign Language in China
Chinese Sign Language is separated into two dialects: a southern dialect influenced by LSF and a northern dialect inspired by ASL. However, CSL is significantly affected by the spoken Chinese language.
Information can also be conveyed through the use of hand gestures, body language, and facial expressions. Contrary to popular belief, Chinese fingerspelling was in use long before Pinyin was developed.
The beginnings of sign language in China may be traced back to 1887, when the first deaf school was formed. Then, this sign language developed thanks to the support of institutions like schools and farms that serve the deaf community.
Sign Language in Arabic
Arabic Sign Language is used by the Arabic-speaking countries in the Middle East. The construction of sentences mirrors the spoken language of Arabic. The Europeans and the Americans provided several loan terms.
The shape and location of the hand conveys information about the setting. Understanding and communication are both aided by the use of facial expressions. In addition, most indicators can only be nouns or verbs.
Sign Language in South Africa
South African Sign Language is promoted as the national language despite the fact that it is simply one of many manual languages used in South Africa.
South Africans use sign language as well, and the influence of American Sign Language may be seen in SASL. One of the few countries with an official sign language is South Africa. There is also a standardized curriculum for teaching sign language in schools.
Most verbs are signed after they are spoken. Adjectives and adverbs follow the nouns and verbs they modify. When transitioning between tenses, signs remain unchanged. The tenses are denoted by the first time stamp. Even though there are standards for South African Sign Language, further study is required to fully understand how the language has developed over time.
Hundreds of sign languages are used all over the world, and they all have their own unique features. Through years of struggle, deaf communities have developed alphabets and languages that are today used by a wide range of people to share their insights with the world.