Sign Language is complicated. There are hundreds of different variations and words can have completely different meanings depending on where you come from.
But what is even more complicated is the origins, and that is what I am going to attempt to show today.
The main families are American, Arab, BANZ, Chinese, Czech, Danish, French, German, Indo-Pakistani, Japanese, Russian, South African, Swedish and Vietnams. I will be giving more information about these later this week.
Where did Sign Language come from?
Groups of people have used hand signals and body movements to communicate throughout history. Most sign languages developed independently. This means that first sign language can be clearly identified.
have been many communities who used signs and body language to communicate. Most written records of sign language seem to have started in the 17th century. Many Europeans saw those who were deaf as mentally challenged, ‘deaf and dumb’, and incapable of basic tasks.
Europe did started to slowly accept deafness. Mainly in the Ottoman Empire courts where deaf servants were seen as more trustworthy. In Britain, finger spelling began to be used for secret communication and for public speaking. This alphabet has mostly survived in Britain, Australia, and South Africa. The French sign language which started to develop in the 18th century is used France and North American sign is based on it.
Most sign languages do not have linguistic similarities to the spoken language of that county. In the United States, England, Australia and Canada the dominant language is English. American Sign Language however comes from French Sign Language. While Australian is closer to British. In Spain and Mexico as well, some of their signs can be very different. These variations in signs can also appear within one country, almost like a dialect.
Well that’s the end of the history lesson; tomorrow will be some facts about deafness and sign language.