What is a true language? • A sign language is a true language because the language system allows a signer to comprehend and produce an indefinitely large number of grammatical sentences in signs. • A signing person has a true language if that person can communicate by sign whatever can be communicated by speech .
Language based on speech compared to language based on signs Language must depend on a physical mode (sound, visual, touch) for its use and learning but that mode need not be limited to sound. • Signing & light • Speech & sound
Language based on speech compared to language based on signs e.g. ‘if the weather had been fine, then Mary’s uncle could have come and given her money’
Complete & incomplete sign language • The real beginning of research on sign language 1960’s Complete sign languages • Linguists & psycholinguists found out that signers of such sign languages, such as the American Sign Language (ASL), the British Sign Language (BSL), and French Sign Language (FSL) can indeed communicate in sign whatever is expressed in speech. Incomplete sign languages Syntactically and/ or lexically
Speed of signing & speaking sentences • The speed at which signers produce sentences (the ideas underlying sentences) in a signed conversation tends to be similar to that at which speakers produce sentences in a spoken conversation. • The signer too has the ability to exceed his speed!
Dialects & foreign accents in sign language • Dialectic differences exists in sign languages. • ASL & BSL are not mutually intelligible !
There is no universal sign language • There are some similarities among sign languages, but not many. • There is no universal sign language • Like speech-based languages, a sign language is a part of culture
Gestures using arms, head, torso • Hearing persons & gestures • Gestures are only a collection of signs that are limited in scope and do not form a true language. • Gestures do play an important part in the communication of hearing persons, and they occur both with & without speech. • Gestures are often similar, but seldom universal. Most gestures are specific to cultural, linguistic, or geographic areas.
Facial gestures • Facial movements are used everywhere to convey a wide range of emotions and feelings. Some of these gestures are natural and universal.
Gestures with speech • Every speech community has its own distinctive gestures that are coordinated with speech.
Speech based sign languages • Sign languages use hand, face, or other body movements in a three dimensional space as the physical means of communication.
2 Types of sign languages Speech-based sign languages Independent Sign Languages They are independent of the ordinary spoken languages, such as American Sign Language & British American Language (ASL & BSL), having developed their own words and grammatical systems for the production and understanding of sentences. • They represent spoken words (or their spelling) and the order of these words or morphemes as they appear in ordinary spoken languages, such as Swedish, English, and French.
3.1 Speech based sign languages 1. Finger spelling: letter by letter According to this system, words are represented by spelling them out letter by letter in terms of individual signs, where each sign represents a letter of the alphabet. Hand and finger configurations are used to indicate letters, such as making V with the index and middle finger, or an O with the thumb and index finger.
Speech based sign languages • Finger spelling: letter by letter • There are one-hand and two-handed systems of finger spelling; the American and Swedes use one hand, while the British use two. • The two-handed system is faster, and provides more easily identifiable letters. • Signers of all systems must learn to use finger spelling, since many place and person names (e.g. Manila, Kensington, Sheldon, etc.) may not have their own individual signs.
3.1 Speech based sign languages 2. Morpheme by Morpheme (MnM)sign languages: ‘Signing Exact English’ & ‘Seeing Essential English’ • Some deaf schools advocate a sign system that uses a whole sign for each speech word or meaningful part, i.e. morpheme. • These systems can be said to be true languages. • Most of these systems were created in the USA around the 1960’s.
3.1 Speech based sign languages 2. Morpheme by Morpheme (MnM)sign languages: ‘Signing Exact English’ & ‘Seeing Essential English’ • These language systems follow in sign the exact linear flow of spoken words. For example, to sign the word ‘coughed’, the signer will need 2 signs: one for ‘cough’ & one for the past morpheme ‘-ed’.
3.1 Speech based sign languages • Advantages of MnM systems • Learner simultaneously acquires the morphology & syntax of both the sign and related speech-based language. • easier for an adult hearing person to learn an MnM than an ISL
3.1 Speech based sign languages • Serious disadvantages • Children do not learn MnM easily • MnM is not preferred by the deaf community.
3.2 Independent sign languages (ISL) • Characteristics of ISLs • Hand configuration • Place of articulation • movement
Word morphology • Morphological changes have their equivalents in ISLs, (e.g. ASL). Adjusting the movement of the sign by changing the speed or tension or rate of repetition gives ASL signers the ability to derive nouns from verbs, as well as to produce derivations that are unique to ASL. • Also, there are uninflected forms of signs that can be defined by the features of place, configuration, and movement, with variations in movement providing the means for morphological variation and change in aspect.
Syntax • There are rules that govern the relationship between individual signs in a sentence.
Acquisition of ISLs In acquiring ASL as a first language, deaf children go through stages of language acquisition which are similar to those of hearing children.