Is sign language Universal?

Discussion in 'Sign Language & Deaf Education' started by mimimama, Jul 2, 2011.

  1. mimimama

    mimimama New Member

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    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?
     
  2. dogmom

    dogmom Well-Known Member

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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.
     
  3. Beowulf

    Beowulf Well-Known Member Premium Member

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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.
     
  4. arafangion

    arafangion New Member

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    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!
     
  5. JClarke

    JClarke AD Veteran Premium Member

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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.
     
  6. arafangion

    arafangion New Member

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    Try that when you visit a country whose primary language is NOT english. :)
     
  7. DeafCaroline

    DeafCaroline New Member

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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.
     
  8. VamPyroX

    VamPyroX bloody phreak from hell

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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").
     
  9. JClarke

    JClarke AD Veteran Premium Member

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    Sure I'll be one of the miming people ;)
     
  10. Smithtr

    Smithtr G.G.H.T Premium Member

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    that is true point advise, vowel sound match speaking meow, mew almost look like exactly!
     
  11. Liza

    Liza New Member

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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.
     
  12. jillio

    jillio New Member

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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.
     
  13. TheOracle

    TheOracle New Member

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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.
     
  14. SimonJ

    SimonJ Member

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    It's Auslan here not Australian Sign Language. We hate using two words if one will do! :)
     
  15. deafskeptic

    deafskeptic Active Member Premium Member

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    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.
     
  16. TheOracle

    TheOracle New Member

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    No one said that all gestures were universal...but up, down, here, there, me, you, eating, drinking, peeing...whatever.
     
  17. posts from hell

    posts from hell New Member

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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.
     
  18. Mudkipz

    Mudkipz New Member

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    Awesome. The tendency to go to Japan... something to think about.
     
  19. TheOracle

    TheOracle New Member

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    Do you think that detracts from the language's authenticity and legitimacy ?
     
  20. posts from hell

    posts from hell New Member

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    Not at all, really.

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

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