Sign This!

It’s been a big week for sign language:

First, the faux-terpreter scandal at Nelson Mandela’s funeral

and then, the cutest KODA (Kid of Deaf Adult) signing her school’s holiday sing-a-long for her parents in the audience. Fast foward to 2:34 for “I Have a Little Dreidel”, her shining moment. She is a star.

South Africa really should have hired Bloomberg’s sign language interpreter from the Hurricane  Sandy press conference instead of a schizophrenic criminal. But that’s just my opinion.

Some fun facts about sign language:

  • Sign languages combine hand shapes with facial expressions with body movement and orientation to fully convey a speaker’s thoughts.
  • Sign languages exhibit the same linguistic properties as oral languages and are as rich and complex as any spoken language. They have their own morphology ( for creating words), phonetics (rules for handshapes), and grammars that are very different from those in spoken languages.
  • Sign language is NOT international: Ethnologue estimates there are up to 137 different sign languages across the world.
  •  American, Irish, Mexican, Catalan, Austrian (just to name a few) variations of sign language are based upon French Sign Language. This is because one of the first deaf language teachers to come to the US was French.
  • Bolivian, Ugandan, Rwandan sign languages are considered dialects of ASL.
  • American Sign Language and British Sign Language are actually almost entirely unintelligible for its signers: they share only 31% of signs! While American and Brits can understand each other most of the time, American and British signers have a much more difficult time. ASL is actually more similar to Japanese sign language in its sign and grammar system than it is to BSL!
  • British Sign Language is one of the only systems to require its users to use both hands when fingerspelling.


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About alicestockwellegan

Language and culture enthusiast from New York living in San Francisco.
This entry was posted in English, French, Grammar, Language, Learning Languages, Multilingualism, Sign Language, Uncategorized, Videos and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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