7 Things You Should Know About Sign Language and Deaf Culture
Start writing a post
Politics and Activism

7 Things You Should Know About Sign Language and Deaf Culture

A Brief Overview

1844
7 Things You Should Know About Sign Language and Deaf Culture

Sign Language and Deaf Culture have always fascinated me. Throughout my studies and watching television shows about deafness, as well as other media sources, I have loved the beautiful dance of communicating through one’s hands. This article is a very brief overview of sign language and deaf culture, which I have included several links to YouTube videos so you can watch sign language instead of just reading about it.

1.Sign Language is Different All Over the World

There is around 300 different forms of Sign Languages spoken all over the world. The most common/most heard of is ASL (American Sign Language). There are about 70 million deaf people who use sign language as their first language and it has been around as long, if not longer than spoken language. Just like spoken language, signing has developed and changed throughout time as words, meanings, and talking have changed.

2.Sign Language Does Not Reflect Spoken Language

There is British, Czech, Australian, French, German, and so many more different forms. Because of this, there are no “dialects” or “accents” in the way we normally think about it, but instead different hand gestures to indicate different words…even the alphabet is different for each language. Moreover, the signs also don’t reflect the spoken language so that it’s actually easier for people who communicate through American Sign Language (ASL) to share and receive information to a person who signs French (LSF) rather than Australian Sign Language (Auslan). Even though ASL and Auslan are both “English,” ASL is derived from LSF rather than Auslan is from British Sign Language.

Watch this video for more information on the differences of sign language around the world!

3.Grammar in Sign Language is Very Different

There are a great number of rules for each language, usually different and separate from its based location language. For instance, in ASL there is no “be” verbs: am, is, are, was, and were. There is also no articles such as: a, the, and an. Another rule in ASL is that the time frame has to be established before the rest of the sentence. For instance if you wanted to say, “I fed the dog yesterday” you would sign “Yesterday I fed dog.”

4.Sign Language is More Than Hand Signs

There is also no use of “tone” so, you have to use facial expressions and body language as well as your hands to communicate what you mean (i.e. annoyed that you fed the dog, glad you fed the dog, etc…). While it may seem complicated to think about, it is very natural when one is conversing with friends.Just like as an actor, one can say “I love you” and mean “I hate you” or “Thank you” or a number of other things, signing uses all the same principles to communicate.

Watch this video on using body language and facial expressions to ask questions in ASL!

5.Brain Injuries Can Impact Signing, Not Just Speech

Most people know that brain injuries can impact speech and basic motor skills, well for deaf, or deafblind, this can hinder their only means of transmitting thoughts.Being aware of this can promote patience with anyone with a brain injury.

6.They Can Do Everything Hearing People Can Do

The biggest mistake anyone can make about Deaf people, or people who need to sign is that they are unable to do normal things. That they are somehow stupid, or lacking in some way. This is completely and utterly false.Just because a deaf person cannot hear, does not mean that they can’t drive, or discuss science and abstract thoughts, write and perform poetry, or even tell jokes. They have a unique, beautiful, different style of telling stories and living life that is all their own; that is just that.It’s just different. Deafness is a culture all over the world that should be respected, celebrated, and learned.

Watch this video called “Deaf People Can Do Anything, Except Hear” by clicking on link above!

7.Deaf Culture in the Arts

Recently Deaf Culture has been more and more popular and there are beginning to have deaf characters in TV shows, and even plays/musicals are having interpreters learning the show and signing what is being said on stage. While this is great, there are several movies that are completely signed that are full-length films in ASL. One film is a classic take off of Dracula, entitled Deafula.This 1975 movie was the first ever horror movie to be shot in ASL. The musical, Spring Awakening, recently closed on Broadway and it was a musical catered to the Deaf. This may seem impossible, but the musical is actually about Deaf kids in a German Boarding School. This elaborately cued musical brought a whole new depth and beauty by using real Deaf people to create and play these characters. Deafness does not prevent enjoying music either and there are so many videos of people signing lyrics with emotion in time to the actual music.

Watch this link for how Spring Awakening became a musical for the Deaf!

Click this link for “Home” by Phillip Phillips performed in ASL by a Deaf Film Camp

I encourage that everyone should learn at least some sort of pidgin sign language-it is a beautiful, big culture that should be recognized more in media and in everyday life. While it varies all over the world, you never know what opportunities you are opening yourself up to or what friendships may come your way just by learning how to sign. While this article is very brief and is just an overview of Deafness and Signing, I hope you learned something and maybe have become fascinated with this culture/language just as I am.

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
Featured

Panic! At The Disco Announces Breakup After 19 Years

Band Makes Breakup Announcement Official: 'Will Be No More'

2512
panic at the disco

It's the end of an era. Originally formed in 2004 by friends in Las Vegas, Panic! At The Disco is no more.

Brendon Urie announced on Instagram that the band will be coming to an end after the upcoming Europe tour. He said that he and his wife are expecting a baby, and the life change weighed heavily in his mind to come to this decision. "Sometimes a journey must end for a new one to begin," he said.

Keep Reading... Show less
Content Inspiration

Top 3 Response Articles of This Week

Odyssey's response writer community is growing- read what our new writers have to say!

6237
https://www.pexels.com/photo/person-writing-on-white-book-1043514/
https://www.pexels.com/photo/person-typing-on-type...

Each week, more response writers are joining the Odyssey community. We're excited to spotlight their voices on as they engage in constructive dialogue with our community. Here are the top three response articles of last week:

Keep Reading... Show less
Featured

To Mom

There are days when you just need your mom

18049
To Mom

There really is no way to prepare yourself for the loss of someone. Imagine that someone being the one who carried you for 9th months in their belly, taught you how to walk, fought with you about little things that only a mother and daughter relationship could understand. You can have a countless number of father figures in your life, but really as my mom always said, " you only get one mom."

Keep Reading... Show less
Swoon

The Way People In Society are Dating is Why I Don't Date

I need someone to show that they want me for me, not that they're using me to chase the idea of being in a relationship.

20316
The Way People In Society are Dating is Why I Don't Date
rawpixel

You hear your phone go off. He's asking you to hang out. Then, of course, you get the advice of your friends to decipher this text. Is it just hanging out or is it more than hanging out? You've probably done this at least once in your life or at least seen a tweet where someone posted their screenshots with a potential love interest.

Keep Reading... Show less
Student Life

Winter Break As Told By 'Friends'

Is a month at home too much to handle?

12931

If you're anything like me, winter break is a much-needed light at the end of the tunnel after a long, stressful semester. Working hard for 15 weeks can really take a toll on a person mentally, physically AND emotionally. It's a nice change of pace to be back at home with your family and friends, but after a couple weeks, it can get, well... boring.

Keep Reading... Show less

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Facebook Comments