How to Understand Sign Language

The UN General Assembly has proclaimed 23 September as the International Day of Sign Languages in order to raise awareness of the importance of sign language.

We at 5-Minute Crafts wanted to learn more about the topic.

What sign languages are

Sign languages are normal languages with their own grammar systems and vocabularies consisting of certain combinations of gestures, facial expressions, and body movements. Even though they look similar, they are not universal. Some of them received legal recognition in a certain form.

A sign language is a language used by deaf people and those that have impaired hearing or have trouble speaking for any reason. But in general, anyone can speak a sign language.

Which sign languages there are

There’s no exact number of every sign languages that exists. Every country has its own language. For example, there is:

  • Indo-Pakistani
  • Russian
  • Brazilian
  • American
  • French
  • British
  • German

Indo-Pakistani sign language is one of the most popular sign languages.

Just like all other languages, sign languages are in danger of extinction. This is especially true for the languages used by small groups of people. For example, the Hawaiʻi sign language is almost completely extinct. And the New Zealand sign language is losing users.

International sign language

In 1951, the World Federation of the Deaf suggested creating a unified sign language called
Gestuno. But only in 1973 did the Federation form a committee that created a dictionary with over 1,500 symbols. Gestuno doesn’t have standardized usage rules of grammar and it doesn’t have a natural evolution.

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