Sign language has evolved into a complete language over the past century. But there are some interesting facts that everyone should know. Here is a list of seven such facts:
1. Sign language also has “dialects” in its own right.
Different countries follow different set of rules in sign language. One may argue that this would complicate things. To an extent yes it does. But then the different “dialects” of sign language have evolved due to different groups. Sign language was not crafted and then taught to people. Deaf people collaborated together and have devised this language over time. And this is why there are so many different versions of the language.
2. Generations helped to evolve the language
The first school in Nicaragua for the deaf was opened in 1980. Basically, groups of deaf people were brought in from different parts of the country. These people shared what signs they were already using. The next batch of students was taught these signs. They, then, improvised on them to invent new signs. This has now led to the formation of a national sign language called ISN.
3. Sign and Spoken languages are different.
Many people believe that signs are based on the words in English. This is not totally true. Some regions which do not have to access to English also have a sign language of their own. The only link between regular language and sign language is lip-reading. Deaf people generally try to understand what others are saying using lip-reading. And since English is a very widely spoken language, most deaf people learn how to read English words from lips.
4. Grammar is completely different in sign language
Even sign language has a well-formed grammar. Various actions are used to stress on different portions of a sentence. A simple nod of the head can change the meaning of a sentence completely. People who are not good at grammar in sign language are often known to have a “foreign language accent”!
5. Children can learn sign language normally
If one converses with children using sign language, they can learn it quickly too. As it is, children often use hands to make gestures. As soon as the child starts speaking, gestures can be used to support the sentences. This will make it easier for the child to understand the spoken language as well.
6. Ability to use sign language can get affected in case of a brain injury.
Brain damage can cause a person to forget what he learnt. He may be able to remember some signs but the possibility is that he will not be able to use them correctly. This is similar to people forgetting proper grammar in English after a brain injury. Simply making gestures is very different from conversing in sign language.
7. Sign language uses visual imagery.
Signs developed from gestures. And these gestures were developed because of the way we converse with our surroundings. So creating a visual representation is very necessary. People use facial expressions and different body postures to stress on what they are saying. It makes the ‘listener’ understand the ‘speaker’ easily.