The deaf & languahge. 5

Report
The Deaf &
Language: A
True Language
without Speech
LEC. 5
1. Sign Language: A True
Language without Speech
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.
.1
A signing person has a true language if that
person can communicate by sign whatever can
be communicated by speech .
.2
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 !


American Sign Language
(ASL)
British Sign Language (BSL)
Arabic Sign Language
(ASL)
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

2. Gestures of Hearing People are
Signs but do not Form a
Language
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.

Gestures using arms,
head, torso
Gestures using arms,
head, torso
Gestures using arms,
head, torso
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.

3. Speech Based Sign
Languages
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
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.
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.
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.

ASL
BSL
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’.

ASL Dictionary
3.1 Speech based sign
languages
Advantages of MnM systems

Learner simultaneously acquires the morphology
& syntax of both the sign and related speechbased language.
.1
easier for an adult hearing person to learn an
MnM than an ISL
.2
3.1 Speech based sign
languages
Serious disadvantages
Children do not learn MnM easily
MnM is not preferred by the deaf community.

.1
.2
3.2 Independent sign
languages (ISL)
Characteristics of ISLs

1.
Hand configuration
2.
Place of articulation
3.
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.

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