SIGN LANGUAGE DIVERSITY THROUGHOUT THE WORLD
Just as there are many separate cultures throughout the world,
there are also a great number of different sign languages.
Mainly they are all different because of their differing
origins. The different spoken languages that are around them
also affect the signed language and how it was developed. And
the origins of the spoken language also affects how new signed
languages are developed. Often signed languages differ in the
fingerspelling of their alphabets.
Fingerspelling is when signers execute rapid handshapes to
correspond to each letter in the English alphabet, and even some
other, but similar to English, alphabets. Even some words are
fingerspelled to communicate their signs because there is no
lexicographic sign for them (Chamberlain, Mayberry, and Morford
2000). Take ASL, for example, when signing refrigerator, you
just sign R-E-F.
Alphabets of signed languages are dependent on the language of
the region of origin. ASL, a one-handed fingerspelling language
(like most European sign languages), is based on the English
alphabet (Brentari 2001). Lexical units of ASL are like spoken
words of English, like fingerspelling is to spelling
respectively. ASL lexical signing is a two-handed signing for
English words, while fingerspelling is a one-handed signing for
the English alphabet. Also, ASL has multiple lexicographic forms
for the same English word, to show different applications (Bellugi
and Klima 1979).
Yet BSL, a two-handed fingerspelling language (like Australian
and New Zealand sign languages), is based on the British
alphabet. BSL typology, or fingerspelling, allows the
incorporation of English into BSL through visual representation
of the written form. Since the two languages, English and
British, are languages that borrow from each other, then the
fingerspellings would also do much of the same. This brings up
the process of breaking down the typology of the two signed
languages. BSL has a primary, two-handed system as well as a
secondary, one-handed system of fingerspelling. There is also
multiple orientations and configurations to each word in the
alphabet. The one-handed fingerspelling originated in Ireland.
Its similar to ASL, but a few of the word forms are signed
differently (Brentari 2001).
JSL uses a manual representation of both a syllabic hiragana
system(Basic Japanese vocabulary. Hiragana is used for
describing and understanding non-asian originated objects and
topics) and a manual character signs. The same is used for other
Asian sign languages (Brentari 2001).
DSL is a “mouth-hand system” (Brentari 2001). DSL is a more
iconic signing language than some others. Much like ASL or CSL,
the lexicographic signs used in DSL much resemble the object
being signed, like a descriptor (Bellugi and Klima 1979).
Mouthing in DGS considered to be at first separate from the
signed language. They also thought that it may be redundant to
be used so frequently in signing. That idea was rejected. Then
later it was proven how both signing and mouthing are both
essential components to communication of the language. Mouthing
alone is not treated like a single way of communication. There
are multiple meanings for the same sign with or without
mouthing. It is a component that differentiates multiple
different signs and their meanings. Mouthing and manual signing
are two different elements, which combines can create multiple
definitions to be interpreted and understood (Brentari 2001).
DSGS has five related dialects, no standard version. Mouthing is
quite significant to DSGS, mainly because Swiss German deaf
people don’t normally fingerspell. Multiple dialects also
contribute to the lack of fingerspelling. Mouthing is much
easier to translate and communicate between the different
versions of DSGS. Plus, the bilingual living situations of the
Swiss German deaf people also contributes to the use of mouthing
over fingerspelling, consequence of the German vocabulary.
German is the base language of DSGS (Brentari 2001).
SLN is the borrowing language of Dutch, the source language. SLN
has a verb framed typology. As an example, its motion verbs can
be implemented in many ways to symbolize similar motion of
different objects (Brentari 2001). SLN is a very lexicographic
language. It also has a lot of grammatic structure to their
sentences (Chamberlain, Mayberry, and Morford 2000).
SD is seen as an artificial language, a hybrid of Dutch and SLN.
It is considered easy for Dutch speakers, but SLN users don’t
consider it a language. It doesn’t following basic typology or
modality constraints of signed languages, even when shown on the
hands. Elements of SD are assimilated in SLN structure, which
shows that SD cant be kept for natural communication (Brentari
Brentari, Diane. 2001. Foreign Vocabulary in Sign Languages: A
cross-Linguistic Investigation of Word Formation. Mahwah, New
Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Publishers.
Chamberlain, C., Mayberry, R., and Morford, J. 2000. Language
Acquisition by Eye. Mahwah, New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum
Bellugi, U., and Klima, E. 1979. The Signs of Language.
Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press.
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