Eight Facts About Sign Languages
- Sign languages are natural languages, originating spontaneously in deaf communities and spreading across generations by the people who uses them. They are not artificial or invented languages!
- They are different around the world, and independent of surrounding spoken languages. For example, British Sign Language is different from American Sign Language.
- Sign languages are organised at the same syntactic, semantic, phonological and morphological levels of spoken language.
- They are different from gestures and pantomime.
- They are perceived in the visuo-spatial modality.
- Signs are created by articulations of the hands, arms and face.
- Each sign is a combination of specific phonological units, including handshape, hand-location and hand-movement.
- They use space for grammatical purposes. Examples include establishing linguistic relationships between entities or designating points in space to specific objects in a discourse.