Language is Not Universal
language is a method of communication that uses the hands to express
words and ideas. People who are deaf or who are hearing
use sign language in addition to reading lips and written communication
to communicate. Sign language is not universal however. There are, in
fact, many forms of sign language. We most commonly see ASL, that is
American Sign Language which is a language based on concepts. Another
sign language that is taught is Signing Exact English or SEE, in which
each word in a sentence, along with prefixes and suffixes.
In the United States sign language may be taught in the classroom, with
assistance of a sign language interpreter, or in a resource room with a
speech and language specialists. Some deaf children, born into a sign
language fluent family will know sign language before going to school.
Children and even adults can be sent to special schools for the deaf.
Sign languages in different countries and even in different regions of
any one country will be specific to the region and the oral language
spoken. For international events, such as the Deaflympics international
sign is the common language. It was formerly called Gestuno. Sign
language is not universal to all deaf people in all places, but is
specific to the location of the deaf person.
Because of the famous liberal arts
university for the deaf in the
United States, Gallaudet, American Sign Language is very well known and
is often used as a common language at international events, just as
spoken English tends to be the currency of commerce and
interaction around the world. Gallaudet is a liberal arts
university where the deaf, HOH and the hearing all join together in
sharing ideas and knowledge.
Sign language is sometimes regarded as miming, or acting, a kind of
great game of charades, but that is not accurate. Signs have many of
the same conventions as spoken or oral language. They can be used to
discuss abstract ideas not just concrete items. Sign language has
grammar just as spoken language does. The signing individual signs in a
language that is common to his location. Sign language is not
universal, for instance, people in Australia sign in Auslan.
In the United States there has been a recent support for teaching
babies to communicate with sign, before they learn to speak. Sign
language helps support language development when used in this way. It
also reduces the frustration in parent child relationships because of
its value as a communication too. Sign language is not universal, but
there are books that teach common first words for parents who desire to
use sign language in this way.
Sign language is unique in the field of communication because the
person receiving the message can gather meaning not just from the hands
but from the facial expression and body posture while something is
being signed. Although sign language is not universal, it could become
a second world class method of communication. The support of the deaf
community as well as others who interact frequently with deaf people is
bringing sign language standing as a useful tool in many walks of life.
Thomas Jackson (Deaf USA)
all rights reserved deafvillage.co.uk 2004