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Unread 07-02-2011, 09:04 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Is sign language Universal?

I realize the english alphabet is different from other languages but if you were to sign with a person that speaks a different language would you be able to understand what they were saying? Or would the signs be so different that you couldn't even know what they were signing about?
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Unread 07-02-2011, 09:24 AM   #2 (permalink)
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There are many other sign languages around the world in addition to American Sign Language<ASL>. They range in variation.

ASL is not universal but Deaf communities from various countries share common stories, experiences and so on.
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Unread 07-02-2011, 10:27 AM   #3 (permalink)
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There are many other sign languages around the world in addition to American Sign Language<ASL>. They range in variation.

ASL is not universal but Deaf communities from various countries share common stories, experiences and so on.
True that. I believe that deaf people would pick up the language of another country's deaf far more easily than hearies would with hearies.
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Unread 07-03-2011, 07:21 AM   #4 (permalink)
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True that. I believe that deaf people would pick up the language of another country's deaf far more easily than hearies would with hearies.
I think that would only be because deaf people are more practiced at speaking in pidgin sign than hearing people are.

Hearing people, especially when they are able to assume that every single person they meet knows perfect english, probably aren't likely to be able to develop a pidgin language as easily as say, a deaf person who is meeting with a wide variety of people who don't know ASL.

I did notice that when, eg, I went overseas and developed a pidgin sign, if I just "substituted" the words and used Auslan grammar, they wouldn't understand me - I had to follow the pidgin sign and work around the lack of a grammar - I couldn't just shove in a grammar I happened to know!
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Unread 07-03-2011, 07:30 AM   #5 (permalink)
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i.e I sign bilingually
I sign in AUSLAN (Australian Sign Language)
I sign in ASL as well

Some similarities there but more different, both still in english.
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Unread 07-03-2011, 08:19 AM   #6 (permalink)
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i.e I sign bilingually
I sign in AUSLAN (Australian Sign Language)
I sign in ASL as well

Some similarities there but more different, both still in english.
Try that when you visit a country whose primary language is NOT english.
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Unread 07-03-2011, 08:36 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Actually, this is rather interesting...I had a much easier time with people who didn't speak English than my friend who came with me. She was so used to spoken communication that she often got very frustrated. Whereas I would gesture, facial expressions, drew pictures, etc. I was more creative, she was limited to her speech.

So I am wondering if the Deaf find travelling to countries where they don't speak their language, found it as hard as hearing people do.
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Unread 07-03-2011, 08:42 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Sign language isn't really universal. Like every spoken language, sign language also has specific syntax (the way it's said). They have have different letters, consonants, vowels, etc that are pronounced/signed differently. Even sounds are sometimes spelled differently. We say "meow". Others may say "mew" or "me-ow".

Overall, I guess it's gestures and pointing that's really universal... and not sign language (hence the word "language").
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Unread 07-03-2011, 06:20 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Try that when you visit a country whose primary language is NOT english.
Sure I'll be one of the miming people
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Unread 07-03-2011, 06:29 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Sign language isn't really universal. Like every spoken language, sign language also has specific syntax (the way it's said). They have have different letters, consonants, vowels, etc that are pronounced/signed differently. Even sounds are sometimes spelled differently. We say "meow". Others may say "mew" or "me-ow".

Overall, I guess it's gestures and pointing that's really universal... and not sign language (hence the word "language").
that is true point advise, vowel sound match speaking meow, mew almost look like exactly!
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Unread 07-03-2011, 06:42 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Well, there is Gestuno -- it is 'international' sign language adopted by deafies from all over the country, very much like Esperanto, which is 'international' written and spoken language adopted by hearies. I am trying to learn both -- Esperanto in the written form only, and Gestuno, well, signed form.

From there, of course, there must be tons of sign languages all over the world local to their countries with all their special dialects just like voice languages!

I am fluent in Norwegian Sign Language and American Sign Language. I also find it interesting to learn some signs from different signed languages, so I sometimes can recognize signs in a different situation -- if I am lucky!

I think I would have the most difficulty in communicating with the english deafies because their sign language and ABC's are so different. It's like trying to understand Russian or chinese. I would love to learn the sign language, though! On my bucket list.
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Unread 07-03-2011, 07:44 PM   #12 (permalink)
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No, sign language is not universal. That is why it is designated as American Sign Language, Australian Sign Language, British Sign Language, French Sign Language, etc.
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Unread 07-09-2011, 02:53 AM   #13 (permalink)
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Gestures are universal. Sign languages are not. I'm not sure how a a hearing person would have any more difficulty. I mean, when I dated a French guy, what do you think we did if we didn't understand something? Made a gesture, used a Hebrew word, or a Latin root.
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Unread 07-09-2011, 03:18 AM   #14 (permalink)
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No, sign language is not universal. That is why it is designated as American Sign Language, Australian Sign Language, British Sign Language, French Sign Language, etc.
It's Auslan here not Australian Sign Language. We hate using two words if one will do! :-)
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Unread 07-09-2011, 07:38 AM   #15 (permalink)
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Sign language isn't really universal. Like every spoken language, sign language also has specific syntax (the way it's said). They have have different letters, consonants, vowels, etc that are pronounced/signed differently. Even sounds are sometimes spelled differently. We say "meow". Others may say "mew" or "me-ow".

Overall, I guess it's gestures and pointing that's really universal... and not sign language (hence the word "language").
Uh, they're not universal. I would not recommend using the A-ok gesture (similar to the F handshape) in a German bar full of jack booted homophobes. You see it means let's have anal sex there.
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Unread 07-09-2011, 04:23 PM   #16 (permalink)
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No one said that all gestures were universal...but up, down, here, there, me, you, eating, drinking, peeing...whatever.
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Unread 07-09-2011, 05:31 PM   #17 (permalink)
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I will have to jump in and say Sign Language is universal up to a point.

I could have a conversation with a group of Japanese Deaf people.
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Unread 07-09-2011, 07:32 PM   #18 (permalink)
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I will have to jump in and say Sign Language is universal up to a point.

I could have a conversation with a group of Japanese Deaf people.
Awesome. The tendency to go to Japan... something to think about.
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Unread 07-09-2011, 10:50 PM   #19 (permalink)
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I will have to jump in and say Sign Language is universal up to a point.

I could have a conversation with a group of Japanese Deaf people.
Do you think that detracts from the language's authenticity and legitimacy ?
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Unread 07-09-2011, 10:55 PM   #20 (permalink)
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Do you think that detracts from the language's authenticity and legitimacy ?
Not at all, really.

For example: sordo, sordi, sordu, sourdo......
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Unread 07-09-2011, 11:02 PM   #21 (permalink)
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Not at all, really.

For example: sordo, sordi, sordu, sourdo......

Sourdough bread? What?

If I listen to a German, I have a better chance at understanding than if I speak with someone from Japan. That's because English is a Germanic language.

So all sign languages are derived from the same idea? And if so, what? Does it make it universal? Does it make it 'gestures' and not 'language'? Can you talk in Nicaraguan sign?

I don't doubt that ASL is a full blown language, but I can see how people would think it is not. One problem ASL does have is a lack of a dictionary and written way to communicate new words - eg, you have to fingerspell things like 'neuropathy'.
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Unread 07-09-2011, 11:14 PM   #22 (permalink)
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Sourdough bread? What?

If I listen to a German, I have a better chance at understanding than if I speak with someone from Japan. That's because English is a Germanic language.

So all sign languages are derived from the same idea? And if so, what? Does it make it universal? Does it make it 'gestures' and not 'language'? Can you talk in Nicaraguan sign?

I don't doubt that ASL is a full blown language, but I can see how people would think it is not. One problem ASL does have is a lack of a dictionary and written way to communicate new words - eg, you have to fingerspell things like 'neuropathy'.
sordo = spanish, sordi = italian, sordu = french, sourdo = latin -- all meaning "deaf" which was my point. "Up to a point."

With your last paragraph, have you seen the Chinese American Post lately? I read it today, and they use English words and symbols here and there in the article. same thing for spelling some words out. Big deal.
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Unread 07-09-2011, 11:22 PM   #23 (permalink)
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sordo = spanish, sordi = italian, sordu = french, sourdo = latin -- all meaning "deaf" which was my point. "Up to a point."

With your last paragraph, have you seen the Chinese American Post lately? I read it today, and they use English words and symbols here and there in the article. same thing for spelling some words out. Big deal.
Yes, but Spanish, Italian, and French are Latin languages.

My point is that language isn't as fluid amongst speaking populations. So if it is easier with sign, does that make sign an easier language? A lesser one? A less intelligent one? Does less convoluted = less smart?

I'm throwing qs out there as things to chew on because I was surprised at your assertion you can talk with Japanese Deaf. I would have never thought so.

edit: I don't read the Chinese American Post , no, but China and America have a relationship that's pretty strong, and English is a man lingua franca in the speaking world, so of course we borrow words from each other. But deaf don't sign to other deaf all around the world like oral speakers talk.
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Unread 07-09-2011, 11:29 PM   #24 (permalink)
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Yes, but Spanish, Italian, and French are Latin languages.

My point is that language isn't as fluid amongst speaking populations. So if it is easier with sign, does that make sign an easier language? A lesser one? A less intelligent one? Does less convoluted = less smart?

I'm throwing qs out there as things to chew on because I was surprised at your assertion you can talk with Japanese Deaf. I would have never thought so.

edit: I don't read the Chinese American Post , no, but China and America have a relationship that's pretty strong, and English is a man lingua franca in the speaking world, so of course we borrow words from each other. But deaf don't sign to other deaf all around the world like oral speakers talk.
Regarding your 2nd paragraph - I'd strongly recommend you to talk to a CODA regarding that. Oftentimes you will see them talking in voice then pause to sign something because sign language delivers so much more depth in a compact form than an page of essay.

And for your last paragraph - please don't make assumptions. I talk with international deaf people all the times. It is wayyy easier than the hearies have for sure.
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Unread 07-09-2011, 11:35 PM   #25 (permalink)
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Regarding your 2nd paragraph - I'd strongly recommend you to talk to a CODA regarding that. Oftentimes you will see them talking in voice then pause to sign something because sign language delivers so much more depth in a compact form than an page of essay.
That is called code switching. I do the same thing with Spanish and Hebrew (and Yiddishe slang, to a lesser extent). But I think that English is better for me than ASL, no matter how poetic and beautiful ASL is. There are some things I can say aloud (or type) that no deaf person will ever 'get' without access to sound.
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And for your last paragraph - please don't make assumptions. I talk with international deaf people all the times. It is wayyy easier than the hearies have for sure.
People have been arguing that sign is not a universal language for decades to help prove that ASL is a language on its own. Full blown. Capable. Meets every need.

You have less 'words' in ASL than we do in English because you combine many roots when signing. So...I was rather surprised that you said you can talk freely with Japanese signers.

In regards to my comment about deaf v. hearing and communications, the deaf do not communicate with people around the world like hearing people do b/c

Sign isn't an ethnic component, nor does it belong to a government or have its own economy or whatever.

Hearing people communicate freely all over the world because it's a global world. That's what I meant. That's why "Google" is a word in China and dim sum is a word here...as is brassiere and verboten.
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Unread 07-09-2011, 11:39 PM   #26 (permalink)
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okay, i refer you to my first post, then.
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Unread 07-09-2011, 11:41 PM   #27 (permalink)
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Well, I guess sign isn't as complicated as I thought.
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Unread 07-13-2011, 05:30 PM   #28 (permalink)
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It's Auslan here not Australian Sign Language. We hate using two words if one will do! :-)
Beg pardon! ASL at one time was called Ameslan, too, but it has fallen out of use.
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Unread 07-13-2011, 05:32 PM   #29 (permalink)
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Well, I guess sign isn't as complicated as I thought.
Just keep thinking that. It is as complicated as any other language. Most English users find ASL to be extremely difficult because of the contextual nature and the visual syntax.
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Unread 07-13-2011, 05:36 PM   #30 (permalink)
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That is called code switching. I do the same thing with Spanish and Hebrew (and Yiddishe slang, to a lesser extent). But I think that English is better for me than ASL, no matter how poetic and beautiful ASL is. There are some things I can say aloud (or type) that no deaf person will ever 'get' without access to sound.
People have been arguing that sign is not a universal language for decades to help prove that ASL is a language on its own. Full blown. Capable. Meets every need.

You have less 'words' in ASL than we do in English because you combine many roots when signing. So...I was rather surprised that you said you can talk freely with Japanese signers.

In regards to my comment about deaf v. hearing and communications, the deaf do not communicate with people around the world like hearing people do b/c

Sign isn't an ethnic component, nor does it belong to a government or have its own economy or whatever.

Hearing people communicate freely all over the world because it's a global world. That's what I meant. That's why "Google" is a word in China and dim sum is a word here...as is brassiere and verboten.
ASL doesn't have words.

What makes you think that the deaf don't communicate with people around the world like the hearing do? That is a very audist comment.

ASL most definately is an ethnic component, just as language is an ethnic tie to any culture, and shared language is a feature of the culture.

Hearing people don't communicate freely all over the world, and Americans especially would have greater difficulty than they already do were not so many other nations fluent in English. Americans are by and large monolingual. They can't communicate with anyone that doesn't know their language.
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