Myths About Sign Language

in Sign-language

To this day, many people believe that American Sign Language is universal. However, this statement is not true. Many countries have their own individual sign language systems. Some countries even have it in a written form. With American Sign Language, our system is closely related to the French. The first instructor to teach American Sign Language came from France, using French Sign Language. However, as time passed, many deaf people added and changed signs that we know today as American Sign Language. Another myth about American Sign Language is that it is a short-form of English. This is certainly not the case. American Sign Language has its own linguistic structure, grammar, facial expressions, and much more. American Sign Language is a very complex language system with every linguistic aspect you would find in any ordinary language.

Differences Between Sign Langauges
So, you may be wondering what the differences are between sign language systems. For example, British Sign Language uses a two-handed alphabet, while American Sign Language uses a one-handed alphabet. Many of the signs in various countries originate from their culture. There are certain signs in Japanese Sign Language that would be offensive to Americans, and certainly, the opposite applies. For example, the middle finger in Japanese is the signed used to signify the word “brother”. The American application would be far more offensive. Many sign language systems may be more graphic when referring to a certain gender. Others may not be so obvious. It is important to know that American Sign Language is not universal, and to recognize the importance of knowing the various sign language systems in other parts of the world.

American Sign Language
American Sign Language is a rich language with strong linguistic components.  First, American Sign Language uses a one-handed alphabet. When learning how to sign, your dominant hand would be used to fingerspell words that are necessary, such as proper nouns. Secondly, American Sign Language uses non-manual markers. This would include facial expressions, body shifting, and eye gazing, just to name a few. In addition, American Sign Language has its own word-sequence. For the most part, when signing, you would first sign the subject, then the verb, and lastly the object. However, like any language, very few individuals sign or speak the same way. There will be a variation of sign language word-order, also.

Where to Learn Sign Language
There are many ways to learn American Sign Language. First, you could go to your local bookstore to purchase a sign language book. However, this may not be the most effective way to learn American Sign Language. To maximize your time and effort, learning American Sign Language online may be the most beneficial.  There are several programs online that teach American Sign Language. However, be cautious when selecting a certain program. You need to find a program that will meet your needs, and be available 24/7. This American Sign Language program should have themed lessons, retention exercises, an extensive dictionary, information about Deaf Culture, and more. When searching for an American Sign Language program, make sure it fits your needs. Lastly, this program online should be in video format and not just pictures. It is very difficult to learn American Sign Language from a one dimensional photo.

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Paul Fugate has 12 articles online

Learn more about sign language for children at ASLDeafined.Com.

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Myths About Sign Language

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This article was published on 2011/04/05