A sign language (also signed language) is a language which, instead of acoustically conveyed sound patterns, uses visually transmitted

sign patterns (manual communication, body language) to convey meaning²simultaneously combining hand shapes, orientation and movement of the hands, arms or body, and facial expressions to fluidly express a speaker's thoughts. Wherever communities of deaf people exist, sign languages develop. Their complex [1][2] spatial grammars are markedly different from the grammars of spoken languages. Hundreds of sign languages are in use around the world and are at the cores of local Deaf cultures. Some sign languages have obtained some form of legal recognition, while others have no status at all.

History of sign language
Juan Pablo Bonet, Reducción de las letras y arte para enseñar a hablar a los mudos (µReduction of letters and art for teaching mute people to speak¶) (Madrid, 1620). One of the earliest written records of a signed language occurred in the fifth century BC, in Plato's Cratylus, where Socrates says: "If we hadn't a voice or a tongue, and wanted to express things to one another, wouldn't we try to make signs by moving our hands, head, and the rest of our body, just as dumb people do at present?"[3] It seems that groups of deaf people have used signed languages throughout history. In the 2nd century Judea, the recording in the Mishnah tractate Gittin[4] stipulated that for the purpose of commercial transactions "A deaf-mute can hold a conversation by means of gestures. Ben Bathyra says that he may also do so by means of lip -motions." This teaching was well known in the Jewish society where study of Mishnah was compulsory from childhood. In 1620, Juan Pablo Bonet published Reducción de las letras y arte para enseñar a hablar a los mudos (µReduction of letters and art for teaching mute people to speak¶) in Madrid. It is considered the first modern treatise of Phonetics and Logopedia, setting out a method of oral education for the deaf people by means of the use of manual signs, in form of a manual alphabet to improve the communication of the mute or deaf people. From the language of signs of Bonet, Charles-Michel de l'Épée published his manual alphabet in the 18th century, which has survived basically unchanged in France and North America until the present time. Sign languages have often evolved around schools for deaf students. In 1755, Abbé de l'Épée founded the first school for deaf children in Paris; Laurent Clerc was arguably its most famous graduate. Clerc went to the United States with Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet to found the American School for the Deaf in Hartford, Connecticut, in 1817.[5] Gallaudet's son, Edward Miner Gallaudet founded a school for the deaf in 1857 in Washington, D.C., which in 1864 became the National Deaf -Mute College. Now called Gallaudet University, it is still the only liberal arts university for deaf people in the world.

they conclude that it is more complex than a typical pidgin and indeed is more like a full signed language. and a topic-commentsyntax. Recent studies claim that while International Sign is a kind of a pidgin.[6] £ ££¢ ¢¡   ¤ ¤ £ ££¢ ¢¡   ¤ ¤ [edi ] Li i ic i In linguistic terms. like oral languages. often arbitrary and do not necessarily have a visual relationship to their referent. This occurs even though sign languages do not necessarily have any linguistic relation to the spoken languages of the lands in which they arise. In much the same way that geographical or cultural forces will isolate populations and lead to the generation of different and distinct spoken languages. [edi ] Si l es' rel i ships wi h oral languages . Orientation (or Palm Orientation). where the sounds that compose words are mostly sequential (tone being an exception). summarised in the acronym OLME. and Non-manual markers (or Facial Expression).Generall each spoken language has a sign language counterpart in as much as each linguistic population will contain Deaf members who will generate a sign language. There are notable exceptions to this pattern. British. meaningless units (phonemes. organize elementary. despite the common misconception that they are not "real languages".[7] Sign languages are not mime ± in other words. formerly known as Gestuno. sign languages are as rich and complex as any oral language. a high degree of inflection. but American. the same forces operate on signed languages and so they tend to maintain their identities through time in roughly the same areas of influence as the local spoken languages. Sign languages. The elements of a sign are andshape (or Handform). This is in contrast to oral languages. They have complex grammars of their own.[cit ti Variations within a 'national' sign language can usually be ] correlated to the geographic location of residential schools for the deaf. the UK. the difference is not categorical. While iconicity is more systematic and widespread in sign languages than in spoken ones. the recipient of a signed message can read meanings carried by the hands. and Australian Sign Languages are all very ] different. For example. Many unique linguistic features emerge from sign languages' ability to produce meaning in different parts of the visual field simultaneously. however: the US. Common linguistic features of deaf sign languages are extensive use of classifiers. is used mainly at international Deaf events such as the Deaflympics and meetings of the World Federation of the Deaf. Location (or Place of Articulation).[8] Nor are they a visual rendition of an oral language. once called cheremes in the case of sign languages) into meaningful semantic units.[cit ti International Sign. the facial expression and the body posture in the same moment. and can be used to discuss any topic. signs are conventional. much as most spoken language is not onomatopoeic. and Australia all have English as their dominant language. Professional linguists have studied many sign languages and found them to have every linguistic component required to be classed as true languages. Movement. from the simple and concrete to the lofty and abstract.

but in fact it is merely one tool among many. countries which use a single oral language throughout may have two or more sign languages. ASL shares more with spoken Japanese than it does with English. thus the two versions of the story took almost the same time to finish. British Sign Language and American Sign Language are quite different and mutually unintelligible. in American Sign Language. Information can be loaded into several channels and expressed simultaneously. such as. Sign language. For example. a cognitive neuroscientist and psycholinguist. To add information about the drive. or that they were invented by hearing people. are often incorrectly referred to as ³inventors´ of sign language. However. A second bilingual signer who could only see the signs then translated them back into English: the information conveyed in the signed story was identical to the original story. such as Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet. although limited in scope. whereas 210 words were needed. deaf sign languages are independent of oral languages and follow their own paths of development.3 signs per second. In 1972 Ursula Bellugi. whereas an area that contains more than one oral language might use only one sign language. The results showed an average of 4. hence a whole scene can be taken in at once. mostly for proper names and technical or specialised vocabulary borrowed from spoken languages.5 propositions per second compared to 1. Fingerspelling can sometimes be a source of new signs. As an illustration. even though the hearing people of Britain and America share the same oral language. "I drove here". which has 11 official oral languages and a similar number of other widely used oral languages is a good example of this. then switch to ASL or vice versa. which are called lexicalized signs." or "I drove here. is visual. in terms of syntax. only one sound can be made or received at a time. Bellugi then tested to see if ASL omitted any crucial information. one would have to make a longer phrase or even add a second.3 for spoken English. The use of fingerspelling was once taken as evidence that sign languages were simplified versions of oral languages.[9] Similarly. Oral language is linear. on the other hand.[10] [edi ] Spatial grammar and simultaneity Sign languages exploit the unique features of the visual medium (sight).A common misconception is that sign languages are somehow dependent on oral languages. that is." However. Manual alphabets (fingerspelling) are used in sign languages. suggests that ASL signs have more information than spoken English: 1. Hearing teachers in deaf schools. "I drove here along a winding road. This study. that they are oral language spelled out in gesture. South Africa. It has only one sign language with two variants due to its history of having two major educational institutions for the deaf which have served different geographic areas of the country.7 words per second and 2. in fact. only 122 signs were needed for a story. The grammar of sign languages does not necessarily resemble that of spoken languages used in the same geographical area. in English one could utter the phrase. information about the shape of the road or the pleasing . A bilingual person was given a story to translate into ASL. It was a nice drive. asked several people fluent in English and American Sign Language to tell a story in English. On the whole.

and between sign languages and gestural systems used by the broader community. Belgian-French Sign Language.[12] Japanese Sign Language. Taiwanese Sign Language and Korean Sign Language are thought to be members of a Japanese Sign Language family. between signed and spoken languages (Contact Sign). One author has speculated that Adamorobe Sign Language may be related to the "gestural trade jargon used in the markets throughout West Africa". Spanish Sign Language. Mexican Sign Language. Dutch Sign Language. Russian Sign Language. and therefore belong to the language families of their respective spoken languages. whereas in English the phrase "I drove here and it was very pleasant" is longer than "I drove here. Catalan Sign Language and others. Contact occurs between sign languages. Thai Sign Language is a mixed language derived from . o A subset of this group includes languages that have been heavily influenced by American Sign Language (ASL). A group of sign "languages" known as manually coded languages are more properly understood as signed modes of spoken languages. Quebec Sign Language. at the same time that the verb 'drive' is being signed. Languages may be spread through migration. Auslan and NZSL are usually considered to belong to a language family known as BANZSL. American Sign Language. making clear family classifications difficult ² it is often unclear whether lexical similarity is due to borrowing or a common parent language. These include: French Sign Language. There are a number of sign languages that emerged from French Sign Language (LSF). they are unrelated to spoken languages and have different grammatical structures at their core. Bolivian Sign Language is sometimes considered a dialect of ASL. Maritime Sign Language and South African Sign Language are also related to BSL. several such signed encodings of English. [11] y ¨ § ¥ ¦¥ y y BSL." in American Sign Language the two may be the same length. There are. French Sign Language family. or were the result of language contact between local community sign languages and LSF. or are regional varieties of ASL. through the establishment of deaf schools (often by foreign-trained educators). or by taking advantage of non-manual signals such as body posture and facial expression. [edit] Classi ication of sign languages See al : Li t of sig lang ages Although deaf sign languages have emerged naturally in deaf communities alongside or among spoken languages. or due to political domination. for example. Irish Sign Language. Flemish Sign Language.nature of the drive can be conveyed simultaneously with the verb 'drive' by inflecting the motion of the hand. and few attempts to determine genetic relationships between sign languages. other than simple comparison of lexical data and some discussion about whether certain sign languages are dialects of a language or languages of a family. Therefore. in vocabulary and areal features including prosody and phonetics. Brazilian Sign Language (LIBRAS). Italian Sign Language. There has been very little historical linguistic research on sign languages. Language contact is common.

Bulgarian. and Providence Island Sign Language.y y y y y y ASL and the native sign languages of Bangkok and Chiang Mai. Others possibly influenced by ASL include Ugandan Sign Language. although significant differences in vocabulary have developed in the course of a century of separate development.[17] The prototype-A class of languages includes all those sign languages that seemingly cannot be derived from any other language. Israeli Sign Language was influenced by German Sign Language. The only comprehensive classification along these lines going beyond a simple listing of languages dates back to 1991. or distinct related languages. The same report suggested a "cluster" of sign languages centered around Czech Sign Language. LSF(fsl). Moldova and Ukraine share a high degree of lexical similarity and may be dialects of one language. the author distinguishes between primary and alternative sign languages[16] and. The classes of BSL(bfi)-. Palestine. Prototype-R languages are languages that are remotely modelled on prototype-A language by a process Kroeber (1940) called "stimulus diffusion". Sign languages of Jordan. Syria. or may be one dialect of a larger Eastern Arabic Sign Language.[13] The classification is based on the 69 sign languages from the 1988 edition of Ethnologue that were known at the time of the 1989 conference on sign languages in Montreal and 11 more languages the author added after the conference. Lebanon. Swedish Sign Language and Norwegian Sign Language belong to a Scandinavian Sign Language family. the sign languages of Russia. Philippine Sign Language and Malaysian Sign Language. DGS(gsg)-. According to a SIL report. between languages recognizable as single languages and languages thought to be composite groups. and may be considered part of the ASL family. Icelandic Sign Language is known to have originated from Danish Sign Language. JSL-. This group may also include Romanian.and LSG-derived languages represent "new languages" derived from prototype languages by linguistic processes . Kenyan Sign Language. Anecdotal evidence suggests that Finnish Sign Language. and Polish sign languages. Known isolates include Nicaraguan Sign Language. Hungarian Sign Language and Slovakian Sign Language. and Iraq (and possibly Saudi Arabia) may be part of a sprachbund. Al-Sayyid Bedouin Sign Language. subcategorically.[14] Classification of sign languages[15] Primary Primary Alternative Alternative Single Group Single Group Prototype-A 7 1 7 2 Prototype-R 18 1 1 BSL(bfi)-derived 8 DGS(gsg)-derived 2 JSL-derived 2 LSF(fsl)-derived 30 LSG-derived 1 In his classification.

Sign languages vary in syntactic typology as there are different word orders in different languages. the majority of phonemes are produced in a sequence one after another. Brentari[20][21] classifies sign languages as a whole group determined by the medium of communication (visual instead of auditive) as one group with the features monosyllabic and polymorphemic.but on a sentence to sentence comparison.[19] [edit] Typology of sign languages  See also: Ling istic t olog  © Linguistic typology (going back on Edward Sapir) is based on word structure and distinguishes morphological classes such as agglutinating/concatenating.[18]Creolization is seen as enriching overt morphology in "gesturally signed" languages. traditional phonemic writing systems are also sequential. hands. as compared to reducing overt morphology in "vocally signed" languages.or poly-) and morphemicity (mono. incorporating. sign languages are not often written. . For example. For example. wordshape is the essential factor. As a consequence. that via one syllable (i. in many countries. signed and spoken languages share approximately the same speed. Morphologically speaking. In those few countries with good educational opportunities available to the deaf. many deaf signers can read and write the oral language of their country at a level sufficient to consider them as "functionally literate. and face moving simultaneously." However. Traditional writing systems are not designed to deal with this level of complexity. Sign languages have a higher non-sequential component. Correspondence to the surrounding spoken languages is not improbable. like subject and object of a verb determine the direction of the verb's movement (inflection).or poly-). although many languages also have non-sequential aspects such as tone. signs may involve fingers. one sign) several morphemes can be expressed. polysynthetic. As a consequence. with many "phonemes" produced simultaneously.e. The phonemic systems of oral languages are primarily sequential: that is. namely syllabicity (mono.[22] [edit] Written forms of sign languages Sign language differs from oral language in its relation to writing. or the two hands moving in different directions. Canonical wordshape results from the systematic pairing of the binary values of two features. with at best diacritics for non-sequential aspects such as stress and tone. ÖGS is Subject-Object-Verb while ASL is SubjectVerb-Object. That means. Partially because of this. This is necessary for sign languages to assure a comparible production rate to spoken languages.of creolization and relexification. deaf education is very poor and / or very limited. inflectional. since producing one sign takes much longer than uttering one word . one word. and isolating ones. most deaf people have very little to no literacy in their country's spoken language.

SignWriting. 'B' for a flat hand. although this is being gradually corrected in HamNoSys. David J. being conventionali ed pictures of the hands. SignWriting. and finally one (or more) for the movement. on the other hand. then one for thehand shape. are more iconic. The Hamburg Notation System (HamNoSys). is a linguistic notational system for research rather than a practical script. However. they are written one atop the other.    [edit ign languages in so iety [edit Tele ommuni ations fa ilitated signing Video Interpreter sign used at VRS/VRI service locations Main articles Video Remote Interpretin and Video Relay Service One of the first demonstrations of the ability for telecommunications to help sign language users communicate with each other occurred whenAT&T's videophone (trademarked as the "Picturephone") was introduced to the public at the1964 New York World's Fair ± two deaf users were able to freely communicate with each other between the fair and another city. Designed specifically for ASL. when sequential. and has adequate means of handling mouthing and facial expression. and intended as a transcription s ystem for researchers rather than as a practical script. others. such as '[]' for the trunk of the body. face. and body. '×' for contact. which can often be written in multiple ways. is able to represent simultaneous elements in a single sign. The orientation of the hand is indicated with an optional diacritic before the hand shape. can also be used for any sign language. there is no one-to-one correspondence with signs. such as the Stokoe notation. since it is iconic and not phonemic. on the other hand. there have been several attempts at developing scripts for sign languages. is a detailed phonetic system that is not designed for any one sign language. both of which SignWriting accommodates easily. The more recent ASL-phabet is a minimal derivative of Stokoe along the lines of shorthand. Peterson has attempted to create a phonetic transcription system for signing that is ASCII-friendly known as the Sign Language International Phonetic Alphabet (SLIPA). being pictographic. are pictographic.[23] Various organi ations have also conducted research on signing via videotelephony. a practical and by far the most popular system. with a conventionali ed order of a symbol for the location of the sign. such as 'A' for a closed fist. they are written one after the other. however. HamNoSys.   . and '5' for a spread hand. The Stokoe notation is a phonemic alphabet devised by William Stokoe for his 1965 Dictionary of American Si n Lan ua e. When two movements occur simultaneously. These systems are based on iconicsymbols. The Stokoe notation. but non alphabetic symbols for location and movement. such as SignWriting and HamNoSys.However. Stokoe used letters of the Latin alphabet and Arabic numerals to indicate the handshapes used infingerspelling. Neither the Stokoe nor HamNoSys scripts are designed to represent facial expressions or non-manual movements. and '^' for an upward movement. Some. is sequential. it is limited in that it has no way of expressing facial expression.

In VRS. thus allowing the two clients to talk to each other on the phone through the interpreter. albeit less frequently. The term for these mini languages is home sign (sometimes homesign or kitchen sign). are also available. A deaf person using a Video Relay Service to communicate with a hearing person With video interpreting. In such cases the interpretation flow is normally between a signed language and an oral language that are customarily used in the same country. Much like telephone interpreting. Some advanced equipment enables interpreters to remotely control the video camera. such asFrench Sign Language (FSL) to spoken French. the sign-language user. and vice versa. The interpreter communicates with the sign-language user via a video telecommunications link.Sign language interpretation services via Video Remote Interpreting (VRI) or a Video Relay Service (VRS) are useful in the present-day where one of the parties is deaf. an informal system of signs will naturally develop. who can also translate as well across principal languages (such as to and from SSL. to and from spoken English). the interpreter. so that the interpreter can see the deaf party. and the interpreter is in another (rather than being in the same room with the clients as would normally be the case). Within the span of a single lifetime and without the support or feedback of a community. unless repressed by the parents. and the Hearing person are in three separate locations. video interpreting can be used for situations in which no on-site interpreters are available. and converse with the hearing party. Although this kind of system is grossly inadequate f the intellectual or development of a child and it comes nowhere near meeting the standards linguists use   . hard-of-hearing or speech-impaired (mute) and the other is Hearing. in order to oom in and out or to point the camera toward the party that is signing. when hearing parents with no sign language skills have a deaf child. British Sign Language (BSL) to spoken English. and American Sign Language (ASL) also to spoken English (since BSL and ASL are completely distinct). Spanish Sign Language (SSL) to spoken Spanish. different from the oral language used in the same country. etc. Multilingualsign language interpreters. For instance. sign language interpreters work remotely with live video and audio feeds. since sign languages are distinct natural languages with their own construction and syntax. Such activities involve considerable effort on the part of the interpreter. the child naturally invents signals to facilitate the meeting of his or her communication needs. VRI and VRS interpretation requires all parties to have the necessary equipment. [edit Home sign Main article Home si n Sign systems are sometimes developed within a single family.[24] Home sign arises due to the absence of any other way to communicate. a signlanguage user and a Hearing person are in one location. However. In VRI. and with the Hearing person by an audio link. video interpreting cannot be used for situations in which all parties are speaking via telephone alone.

such as during mourning and initiation rites. A pidgin sign language arose among tribes of American Indians in the Great Plains region of North America (see Plains Indian Sign Language). On occasion. There are especially users today among the Crow. Kata Kolok in a village in Bali. and Arapaho. hunting (by groups such as the Kalahari bushmen). Dieri. or in the game Charades. Many Australian Aboriginal sign languages arose in a context of extensive speech taboos. television recording studios. More elaborate systems of manual communication have developed in places or situations where speech is not practical or permitted. Kaytetye. No type of Home Sign is recognized as an official language. Warumungu. and are based on their respective spoken languages. Unlike other sign languages developed by hearing people. there has been a movement to teach and encourage the use of sign language with toddlers before they learn to talk.to describe a complete language. In such communities deaf people are not socially disadvantaged. Cheyenne. because such young children can communicate effectively with signed languages well before they are physically capable of speech. it shares the spatial grammar of deaf sign languages. baseball. Famous examples of this include Martha's Vineyard Sign Language in the USA. There is also movement to use signed languages more with non-deaf and non-hard-of-hearing children with other causes of speech impairment or delay. It was used to communicate among tribes with different spoken languages. Adamorobe Sign Language in Ghana and Yucatec Maya sign language in Mexico. scuba diving. such as cloistered religious communities. [edit] Use of signs in hearing communities Gesture is a typical component of spoken languages. Recently. loud workplaces. for the obvious benefit of effective communication without dependence on speech. This is typically referred to as Baby Sign. where the prevalence of deaf people is high enough. a deaf sign language has been taken up by an entire local community. . stock exchanges. In Rugby Union the Referee uses a limited but defined set of signs to communicate his/her decisions to the spectators. Arrernte. They are or were especially highly developed among the Warlpiri. it is a common occurrence. and Warlmanpa.

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