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Signing and Sign Language

A few words about Signing and Sign Language:

Who uses sign language? There exists a select section of the society that we who are physically disabled as well as those who do not have one or some of the basic senses that every human is born with – sight, hearing, taste, smell and touch. There are various methods used to improve the lifestyles of these people. For example blind people are aided in their studies through the method of ‘braille’. Similarly wherever there are communities of deaf people, sign languages develop. Signing or Signed language, commonly known as sign language is a method of communication among those who are deaf. It mainly involves the usage of gestures and body language to convey a message.

There isn’t any fixed method of sign language. It generally involves simultaneous movement of the user’s arms and hands or sometimes even facial expressions. It differs depending on how the person thinks and how he wants to convey his thoughts. Signing is not restricted to those who cannot hear but is also done by those with defective or complete inability to speak. Though there is no fixed method, sign language has its own kind of space to use forms of grammar that is not followed by the spoken language. Sign languages show similar linguistic properties. Around hundreds of sign languages are now in use worldwide. Some of these sign languages have obtained certain legal recognition while others continue to strive despite the lack of any form of legalization. Many assume that sign

Language is a modern culture. However, the existence of sign language can be traced back to almost 5th century BC where Socrates expresses his opinions on how even a man with the ability to speak uses signs and body language to convey a message just like dumb people. Also, an archaeological study shows that the first ever generation of man only to used sign language to convey any message as there were no spoken languages or words. Another common misconception is the presumed dependence that sign language is said to have on spoken language. This basically means that many think that sign language was created by those who can hear and that it is merely gesturing what would have been spoken. The teachers of Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet, a popular school for the deaf, are often wrongly called the inventors of the sign language.

The fact remains that sign language has no root and can only be similar to the words spoken but can never be the same. All in all, sign languages have their own path of development and are in no way dependent on the spoken language. For example, American Sign Language and British Sign Language have many differences irrespective of the fact that language spoken in both Britain and America is the same. Also, the grammar involved in sign language does not usually correlate with the spoken language of the same region. In fact in terms of syntax the American Sign language has more in common with spoken Japanese than any other form of English.


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