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Author: Jack SlemendaConverse College, SC

Date submitted to deafed.net – March 20, 2008

To contact the author for permission to use this PowerPoint, please e-mail: slemenjc@spart5.k12.sc.us

To use this PowerPoint presentation in its entirety, please give credit to the author.


Sign Languages Around the World

Jack Slemenda

Converse College

A look at France, China and South Africa


Did you know?

  • Contrary to popular belief, sign languages are not universal.

  • Each country or culture has its own gestures or hand shapes for words and sentences.


Introduction

  • Sign languages are either the main or only languages used by certain members of society.

    • Considered its own language

    • Has its own set of rules


More about Sign

  • Each society, then, has its own primary sign language

  • Variations in dialect just as in spoken language

  • As many sign languages as there are spoken languages.


Just to name a few…

  • French Sign Language

  • South African Sign Language

  • Chinese Sign Language


French Sign Language –

  • Langue des Signes Francaise (LSF)

  • 1st known sign language identified as a true language

  • Discovered by accident

    • Abbe’ Eppe

      • Met twin sisters who were deaf

      • Developed interest in their communication (OFSL)


Development of LSF

  • Epee created “methodical signs”

    • Very difficult

    • First attempt for a sign language to have spoken language appearance

  • Started a school for the deaf

    • Located in Paris

    • Deaf students in one place

      • Continuous communication

      • Accelerated the language

  • Deaf could still be intelligent without using spoken language


Transformation of LSF

  • Abbe’ Sicard

    • Student of Abbe’ Epee

    • Headmaster of Paris school following Epee

    • Theory of Ciphers

      • Code system to help put language into patterns

      • Helped students create sentences using grammatical French


Other Instrumental Individuals

  • Jean Massieu

    • Born deaf

    • Head Teaching Assistant at the Paris school

  • Laurent Clerc

    • Studied under Jean Massieu

    • Met Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet

    • Decided to go to America to help establish The American School for the Deaf


Spread of Sign Language

  • Schools for the deaf

    • Graduates took what they learned and found new schools

    • Contributed to transformation of sign language into other “dialects”


The Battle: LSF vs. Oralism

  • Round 1

    • Milan Congress

    • 1880

    • LSF banned from classrooms

    • Only allowed to use oral approach

  • Round 2

    • 1970’s - Deaf began fighting for use of LSF

    • Fabius law passed

      • 1991

      • Allowed use of LSF to educate deaf children


And the Winner is…

  • 2004 - LSF officially recognized as a language

  • Oralism still used


South African Sign Language – SASL

  • Introduction to South Africa

    • 1881

    • Deaf school established by W. Murray

      • Children from Afrikaans-speaking families

      • British Sign Language first used

    • By 1900’s three deaf schools existed in SA


Communication

  • Between Hearing and Deaf

    • Few hearing people know SASL

    • Mix of speech, signs, and fingerspelling

  • Between Deaf Adults

    • Sign and fingerspelling

    • Some confusion

      • Residential schools develop own dialects

      • Passed down to each generation

      • Individuals leave schools

        • Still use their own dialect

        • Can create misunderstanding


Norman Neider- Heitmann

  • 1974 – Appointed to research sign languages used in South Africa

    • Hoped to standardize the signs

    • Help all language groups communicate better


7 years later…

  • Talking to the Deaf was published

    • 1st sign dictionary in SA

    • Further research to test validity of signs

  • Seven deaf groups from SA questioned

    • 95% of signs recognized by groups

    • Not necessarily used


What’s happening now?

  • Talking to the Deaf

    • Primary method in many schools

    • Follows grammatical rules of language

      • Designed to teach children spoken language

      • Part of both communities


Chinese Sign Language – CSL

  • First deaf school in China

    • 1887

    • American missionary C.R. Mills and his wife

    • Focused on oral methods

    • ASL had no influence on CSL

  • CSL fairly new

    • Proposed in 1950 by SL Reform Committee

    • 1961 – sign language book published


Chinese Sign Language

  • Shapes and motions along with facial expressions

  • Signs resemble written pictorial characters

  • Manual alphabet

    • Used only to fingerspell words

    • Rarely used among deaf

    • Write characters on palm or air


Some Statistics

  • Approximately 21 million people in China with hearing loss

  • 3 million are deaf

  • Last 50 years

    • CSL discouraged

    • Banned from some classrooms

    • Oral-only policy

  • 1500 hearing rehabilitation centers

    • For preschool children

    • <10% of children leaving hearing rehabilitation centers are able to grasp enough CSL for school


Why so few?

  • Chinese is a tonal language

    • Same phonetic pronunciations with different intonations have different meanings

    • Deaf children cannot hear to distinguish tones


The Deaf are disabled?

  • Chinese view deafness as a disability

  • Deaf view themselves as disabled

    • Parents aim to cure deafness

      • Spend 10s of thousands of yen

      • Acupuncture

      • Hearing Aids

      • Rehabilitation Centers

    • Deaf students prefer hearing teacher to a deaf one


Is there hope for CSL?

  • Schools aiming to embrace deaf culture

  • Tianjin

    • Third largest city

    • Working to create jobs for deaf

    • 2001 Tianjin School for the Deaf

      • Adopted CSL as primary communication method

      • Aim to have deaf employees

    • Tianjin Technical College for the Deaf

      • First technical college for deaf Chinese

      • Focuses on computer technology


References

  • Chinese Sign Language. In Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia [online]. Wikipedia Foundation, Inc. 2007 [cited 8 July, 2007] http://en.wikipedia.org

  • French Sign Language. In Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia [online]. Wikipedia Foundation, Inc. 2007 [cited 8 July, 2007] http://en.wikipedia.org

  • Herbst, Johan M. “South African Sign Languages”. Cleve, John V. van (ed): Gallaudet encyclopedia of deaf people and deafness (Vol. 3. S-Z. New York, NY: McGraw Hill (1987) pp. 106-108


References (continued)

  • J., Julie “Sign language – Can Deaf People from Different Countries Understand Each Other?” Online posting. February 2007. Yahoo! Answers. 8 July 2007. http://answers.yahoo.com

  • Moody, William. “French Sign Languages”. Cleve, John V. van (ed): Gallaudet Encyclopedia of deaf people and deafness (Vol. 3. S-Z. New York, NY: McGraw Hill (1987) pp. 74-77.

  • Singer, M., Afsari, N., Michaut, Frederik, & Lamit, Virginia. “L’Alphabet en LSF.” [online] The DESS Nouvelles Technologies and Handicaps Sensory and Physical at Paris8 University. [cited 20 July 2007] http://ufr6.univ-paris8.fr.


References (continued)

  • South African Sign Language. In Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia [online]. Wikipedia Foundation, Inc. 2007 [cited 8 July, 2007] http://en.wikipedia.org

  • “Standard Manual Alphabet.” [online] A to Z to Deafblindness. 17 September 2002. [cited 20 June 2007]. http://www.deafblind.com/ukthma.html

  • Yau, Shun-chiu. “Chinese Sign Languages”. Cleve, John V. van (ed): Gallaudet encyclopedia of deaf people and deafness (Vol. 3. S-Z. New York, NY: McGraw Hill (1987) pp. 65-67


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