Sign languages: 5 things you probably didn’t know

So far, we, Lexiophiles language freaks who write this blog for you, have written many articles about many languages separately, we have even compared some of them, we have found the easiest and hardest to learn, we have even complained about a few things we don’t like. We’ve also covered body language, visual language and even signs. There is still one kind of language that we haven’t covered yet: the sign language. We’ve put together some questions you probably wanted to ask and things you didn’t know about sign languages.

1) Is sign language really a language?
Of course it is. It has all features every language has, such as grammar and syntax. Instead of using sounds, sign language uses signs made by moving the hands, together with facial expressions and upper body language.
Sign language has also very little in common with its spoken counterpart. For instance, the grammar and sentence structure is completely different! If you don’t believe me, read this great article and focus on the approximations of the sentences in sign language. Sign languages are more iconic than spoken ones, but that doesn’t mean they’re easily understandable!

2) Is sign language universal?
No, every country has its own signed language. Sign languages have also very little in common with spoken languages. For instance, British and American English are considered to be variants of the same language, English, on the other hand British sign language and American sign languages (BSL and ASL) are two different languages with different signs and with speakers that do not understand each other. American sign language is actually much closer to French sign language (FSL) than to BSL.

3) Why didn’t they come up with an international sign language?
Sign language is not an artificial language as it might seem, it’s a living language of a community that has developed naturally, as any other (spoken) language. There have been some tries to make an international sing language (IS), however, it is very limited compared to natural sign languages.

4) Do language disorders influence the ability to learn sign language?
It depends, but generally speaking, language disorder means a problem with communication and expressing one’s thoughts, which influences spoken, written and even sign language.

5) Can sign language act as a mother tongue?
Of course it can! Recently, there has even been a boom of parents who communicate with their children before they speak. Baby sign language is not only for deaf children, as it tries to cover the gap between “wanting to communicate” and “not being able to speak (yet)”. Basically, baby sign language is then the first language the baby learns. Of course, babies then forget the sign language when they’re able to produce understandable words. For deaf people, sign language remains their first language, their mother tongue.

Do you have any experience with a sign language? Would you like to learn it? Share your thoughts with us!


You might also like: