Seth Thompson's Sign Language Glog

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Seth Thompson's Sign Language Glog

Sign languages are not simply spoken languages conveyed through hand signs. British Sign Language and ASL illustrate this point very well. It may be assumed, because the U.S. and U.K. both predominantly speak English, that BSL and ASL signers should be able to communicate easily. However, this is not true because the two sign languages stand alone, independent from English.

Sign languages primarily rely on hand signs, but facial expressions play an important role as well. A raised eye brow indicates a question. Wide eyes may mean surprise or great interest depending on the context. Also, many hearing people who communicate with deaf people will mouth words as they sign, because many deaf people are very good at reading lips.

Sign languages are methods of communication which rely on non verbal cues alone. For a very long time critics debated whether sign languages are in fact legitimate languages. Fortunately, modern research and studies have proven that sign languages are not much different than spoken languages in regard to the way they are processed in the brain. There are approximately 200 sign languages recognized across the world today. Just like any spoken language in the world, all sign languages have distinct rules of grammar, diction, and syntax which are expressed through hand signs and other non verbal gestures. Today there are approximately 500,000 users of American Sign Language (ASL) in North America alone. There is no doubt that sign language is an invaluable method of communication among the deaf community, creating relationships and knowledge which might not otherwise be achieved.


Cochlear implants are hearing devices that act as artificial cochlea for profoundly deaf people by stimulating the auditory nerve directly. These devices have been a topic of great debate in the deaf community. Some argue that cochlear implants should be given to children at a young age to give them the best chance at spoken language acquisition. These people claim that sign language is not used on a large enough scale and that learning it does not set children up with a valuable life skill they will use through out their life. On the other hand, many deaf parents of deaf children want their children to embrace being deaf and be proud of it. These parents encourage their children to learn sign language instead of traditional spoken languages.

Sign languages are communicated through hand signs. These signs include much more than the sign language alphabet which you may have learned as a kid. The signs in ASL often represent entire ideas, such as "thank you", and not necessarily single words. Meanings depend on four parameters of the sign, which are the shape and orientation, location, movement, and any additional facial expressions or finger spelling that accompany the sign.

Check out this video on sign language.


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