Differences between sign languages

Day 6

Okay, we are almost at the end of the week, and today I will be going over the 14 main sign language families; what’s included in them, their possible origins. These are in a random order.

So I will start with French Sign Language (LSF) as this is one of the oldest sign languages and many other signs have come from it (American, Russian, Czech, Danish, and Italian). The earliest mention of Old French Sign was by Charles-Michel de l’Épée in the late 17th century but it is believed to have existed for centuries before. French sign language is also used in parts of Switzerland and has over 100 000 signers. It uses one hand like many other sign languages and this is because so many of them are related or directly descendant from it.

Next is British (BSL), Australian (Auslan) and New Zealand Sign Langue (NZSL) all together called (BANZSL), these three languages can technically be considered dialects of the same language due to their grammar and alphabet. They all have roots in the sign language used in Britain during the 19th century, surprisingly American Sign Language is unrelated to BANZSL but there are some similarities in vocabulary. Swedish Sign is also believed to come from BANZSL and South African Sign has been influenced by BANZSL.

So going across the ocean to the Americas is American Sign Language (ASL) which is used in the United States and the English parts of Canada (in the French speaking parts they use Quebec Sign Language, LSQ). Dialects of ASL are used in West Africa and parts of Southeast Asia. It comes from LSF and has a one handed alphabet.

Now onto Chinese Sign Language, this was created to allow deaf people to China to communicate with each other and form a community. In China, sign language is discouraged and banded in some places; deafness is stigmatised in a lot of places but there is a small change, there are more deaf schools and it is becoming less looked down upon. Chinese sign is a isolate language with little similarity to other sign languages.

Russian Sign is another language that comes from French Sign Language. Russian Sign Language (RSL/РЖЯ) has very strict word order and is normally only used by Deaf Russians in everyday conversation. ‘Signed Russian’ is normally used in university lectures and television. Many of the former USSR countries Sign Languages derive from Russian Sign.

Another sign language that comes from French sign is, Austro-Hungarian Sign. It then divides of into Czech Sign, Slovak Sign, and Bulgarian Sign. There is similar grammar with German sign but the vocabulary is different.

The final family that is influenced by French Sign Language is Danish Sign Language. Danish Sign language also brought around Norwegian and Icelandic Sign Language.

Swedish Sign Language includes Swedish Sign, Finish and surprisingly Portuguese Sign Language. In Sweden it is required that parents of deaf children learn sign language. It is thought that Swedish Sign Language comes from British Sign Language.

The last European Sign Language family is, German Sign Language. It contains German, Polish and Israeli Sign Language. The alphabet does derive from Old French Sign Language (like many one handed alphabets do) but there is little other similarities.

Japanese Sign includes Japanese Sign, Korean Sign and Taiwanese Sign Languages. The three sign languages can be mostly understood by each other.

Now onto Vietnamese sign language. The sign language of Vietnam have had influence from French Sign Language.

Next is Indo-Pakistani Sign Language, which is used in Indi, Pakistan and Bangladesh. The languages grammar is not similar to Hindi or English.

And finally the Arab sign langue family which includes Yemeni, Egyptian, Levantine, Iraqi and Kuwaiti along with others which are more distantly related. There is a project for a single Arabic Sign Language to be formed but that will be a slow process.

There are some facts about the sign language families, and tomorrow will be the results of the BSL campaign.