British Sign Language

British Sign Language (BSL) is a sign language used in the United Kingdom (UK), and is the first or preferred language of some deaf people in the UK. There are 125,000[5] deaf adults in the UK who use BSL, plus an estimated 20,000 children. In 2011, 15,000 people living in England and Wales reported themselves using BSL as their main language.[6] The language makes use of space and involves movement of the hands, body, face, and head. Many thousands of people who are not deaf also use BSL, as hearing relatives of deaf people, sign language interpreters or as a result of other contact with the British deaf community.

British Sign Language (BSL)
Breetish Sign Leid
Iaith Arwyddion Prydain
Cànan Soidhnidh Bhreatainn
Teanga Comhartha na Breataine
BSL Name
Native toUnited Kingdom
Native speakers
77,000 (2014)[1]
250,000 L2 speakers (2013)
  • British Sign Language (BSL)
none widely accepted
Official status
Official language in
Scotland[3], England, European Union
Recognised minority
language in
Language codes
ISO 639-3bfi
British Sign Language chart
The BSL Fingerspelling Alphabet (Right hand dominant)


History records the existence of a sign language within deaf communities in England as far back as 1570. British Sign Language has evolved, as all languages do, from these origins by modification, invention and importation.[7][8] Thomas Braidwood, an Edinburgh teacher, founded 'Braidwood's Academy for the Deaf and Dumb' in 1760 which is recognised as the first school for the deaf in Britain. His pupils were the sons of the well-to-do. His early use of a form of sign language, the combined system, was the first codification of what was to become British Sign Language. Joseph Watson was trained as a teacher of the deaf under Thomas Braidwood and he eventually left in 1792 to become the headmaster of the first public school for the deaf in Britain, the Asylum for the Deaf and Dumb in Bermondsey.

In 1815, an American Protestant minister, Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet, travelled to Europe to research teaching of the deaf. He was rebuffed by both the Braidwood schools who refused to teach him their methods. Gallaudet then travelled to Paris and learned the educational methods of the French Royal Institution for the Deaf, a combination of Old French Sign Language and the signs developed by Abbé de l’Épée. As a consequence American Sign Language today has a 60% similarity to modern French Sign Language and is almost unintelligible to users of British Sign Language.

Until the 1940s sign language skills were passed on unofficially between deaf people often living in residential institutions. Signing was actively discouraged in schools by punishment and the emphasis in education was on forcing deaf children to learn to lip read and finger spell. From the 1970s there has been an increasing tolerance and instruction in BSL in schools. The language continues to evolve as older signs such as alms and pawnbroker have fallen out of use and new signs such as internet and laser have been coined. The evolution of the language and its changing level of acceptance means that older users tend to rely on finger spelling while younger ones make use of a wider range of signs.[9]

On 18 March 2003 the UK government formally recognised that BSL is a language in its own right.[10]


Linguistics are an integral component to any language because this allows for languages to be understood in a more efficient manner when taught[11]. In general, sign languages have their own ‘words’ (hand gestures) that could not be understood in other dialects[11]. How one language signs a certain number would be different than how another language signs it[11]. British Sign Language is described as a 'spatial language' as it "moves signs in space[11]."


Like many other sign languages, BSL phonology is defined by elements such as handshape, orientation, location, movement, and non-manual features. There are phonological components to sign language that have no meaning alone but work together to create a meaning of a signed word: hand shape, movement, location, orientation and facial expression [12][11]. The meanings of words differ if one of these components is changed[12] [11]. Signs can be identical in certain components but different in others, giving each a different meaning[11]. Facial expression falls under the 'non-manual features' component of phonology[13]. These include "eyebrow height, eye gaze, mouthing, head movement, and torso rotation [13]."


In common with other languages, whether spoken or signed, BSL has its own grammar which govern how phrases are signed. [11]. BSL has a particular syntax[11]. One important component of BSL is its use proforms[11]. A proform is “...any form that stands in the place of, or does the job of, some other form.[11]” Sentences are composed of two parts, in order: the subject and the predicate[11]. The subject is the topic of the sentence, while the predicate is the commentary about the subject[11].

BSL uses a topic–comment structure.[14] Topic-comment means that the topic of the signed conversation is first established, followed by an elaboration of the topic, being the ‘comment’ component[11]. The canonical word order outside of the topic–comment structure is object-subject-verb (OSV), and noun phrases are head-initial.[15]

Relationships with other sign languages

Although the United Kingdom and the United States share English as the predominant oral language, British Sign Language is quite distinct from American Sign Language (ASL) - having only 31% signs identical, or 44% cognate.[16] BSL is also distinct from Irish Sign Language (ISL) (ISG in the ISO system) which is more closely related to French Sign Language (LSF) and ASL.

It is also distinct from Signed English, a manually coded method expressed to represent the English language.

The sign languages used in Australia and New Zealand, Auslan and New Zealand Sign Language, respectively, evolved largely from 19th century BSL, and all retain the same manual alphabet and grammar and possess similar lexicons. These three languages may technically be considered dialects of a single language (BANZSL) due to their use of the same grammar and manual alphabet and the high degree of lexical sharing (overlap of signs). The term BANZSL was coined by Trevor Johnston[17] and Adam Schembri.

In Australia deaf schools were established by educated deaf people from London, Edinburgh and Dublin. This introduced the London and Edinburgh dialects of BSL to Melbourne and Sydney respectively and Irish Sign Language to Sydney in Roman Catholic schools for the deaf. The language contact post secondary education between Australian ISL users and 'Australian BSL' users accounts for some of the dialectal differences we see between modern BSL and Auslan. Tertiary education in the US for some deaf Australian adults also accounts for some ASL borrowings found in modern Auslan.

Auslan, BSL and NZSL have 82% of signs identical (using concepts from a Swadesh list). When considering similar or related signs as well as identical, they are 98% cognate. Further information will be available after the completion of the BSL corpus is completed and allows for comparison with the Auslan corpus and the Sociolinguistic Variation in New Zealand Sign Language project . There continues to be language contact between BSL, Auslan and NZSL through migration (deaf people and interpreters), the media (television programmes such as See Hear, Switch, Rush and SignPost are often recorded and shared informally in all three countries) and conferences (the World Federation of the Deaf Conference – WFD – in Brisbane 1999 saw many British deaf people travelling to Australia).

Makaton, a communication system for people with cognitive impairments or other communication difficulties, was originally developed with signs borrowed from British Sign Language. The sign language used in Sri Lanka is also closely related to BSL despite the oral language not being English, demonstrating the distance between sign languages and spoken ones.

BSL users campaigned to have BSL recognised on an official level. BSL was recognised as a language in its own right by the UK government on 18 March 2003, but it has no legal protection. There is, however, legislation requiring the provision of interpreters such as the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984.


BSL has many regional dialects. Certain signs used in Scotland, for example, may not be may not be understood immediately, or not understood at all, by those in Southern England, or vice versa. Some signs are even more local, occurring only in certain towns or cities (such as the Manchester system of number signs). Likewise, some may go in or out of fashion, or evolve over time, just as terms in oral languages do.[18] Families may have signs unique to them to accommodate for certain situations or to describe an object that may otherwise require fingerspelling.

Many British television channels broadcast programmes with in-vision signing, using BSL, as well as specially made programmes aimed mainly at deaf people such as the BBC's See Hear and Channel 4's VEE-TV.

BBC News broadcasts in-vision signing at 07:00-07:45, 08:00-08:20 and 13:00-13:45 GMT/BST each weekday. BBC Two also broadcasts in-vision signed repeats of the channel's primetime programmes between 00:00 and 02:00 each weekday. All BBC channels (excluding BBC One, BBC Alba and BBC Parliament) provide in-vision signing for some of their programmes.

BSL is used in some educational establishments, but is not always the policy for deaf children in some local authority areas. The Let's Sign BSL and fingerspelling graphics are being developed for use in education by deaf educators and tutors and include many of the regional signs referred to above.

Number of BSL users

In 2016 the British Deaf Association says that, based on official statistics, it believes there are 151,000 people who use BSL in the UK, and 87,000 of these are deaf. This figure does not include professional BSL users, interpreters, translators, etc. unless they use BSL at home.[19]

Learning British Sign Language

British Sign Language can be learnt throughout the UK and three examination systems exist. Courses are provided by community colleges, local centres for deaf people and private organisations. Most tutors are native users of sign language and hold a relevant teaching qualification.

Signature is an awarding body accredited by the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA) who provide the following qualifications:

  • Level 1 Award (elementary)
  • Level 2 Certificate (intermediate)
  • Level 3 Certificate (intermediate)
  • Level 4 Certificate (intermediate)
  • Level 6 NVQ (advanced)
British Sign Language finger spelling chart, designed for colouing

iBSL also award language qualifications: a Level 1 Award and Level 2, 3, 4 and 6 Certificates.[20]

In Scotland, there is a Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) system for students learning British Sign Language. Currently there are 5 levels in the SQA system (continuing assessments):

  • SQA: Introduction to British Sign Language
  • SQA: British Sign Language Level 1
  • SQA: British Sign Language Level 2
  • SQA: British Sign Language Level 3
  • SQA: Professional Development Award in British Sign Language Studies
Saying thank you in BSL. Flat hand in front of the chin and sweep outwards/forwards

The British Deaf Association formed the British Sign Language Academy in about 2008[21] to provide an official British Sign Language curriculum and tutor training. However this is no longer in operation.

Becoming a BSL / English interpreter

There are two qualification routes: via post-graduate studies, or via National Vocational Qualifications. Deaf Studies undergraduate courses with specific streams for sign language interpreting exist at several British universities; post-graduate level interpreting diplomas are also on offer from universities and one private company. Course entry requirements vary from no previous knowledge of BSL to NVQ level 6 BSL (or equivalent). The alternative to university studies are either NVQ language and interpreting courses on offer from Signature or IBSL language qualifications followed by an interpreting qualification which is mapped against the CILT National Occupational Standards for Interpreting.

The qualification process allows interpreters to register with the National Registers of Communication Professionals with Deaf and Deafblind People (NRCPD), a voluntary regulator. Registrants are asked to self-certify that they have both cleared a DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) check and are covered by professional indemnity insurance. Completing a level 3 BSL language assessment and enrolling on an approved interpreting course allows applications to register as a TSLI (Trainee Sign Language Interpreter). After completing an approved interpreting course, trainees can then apply to achieve RSLI (Registered Sign Language Interpreter) status. RSLIs are currently required by NRCPD to log Continuous Professional Development activities. Post-qualification, specialist training is still considered necessary to work in specific critical domains.

Both the Association of Sign Language Interpreters and Visual Language Professionals provide a network of regional groups, professional development opportunities and mentoring. These membership organisations represent the sign language interpreting profession in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and provide interpreters with professional indemnity insurance.

Communication Support Workers

Communication Support Workers (CSWs) are professionals who support the communication of deaf students in education at all ages, and deaf people in many areas of work, using British Sign Language and other communication methods such as Sign Supported English. The Association of Deaf Education Professionals and Trainees (ADEPT) is a national association, formed from a merger of ACSW and NATED in 2014, that supports and represents the interests and views of CSWs, encourages good practice and aims to improve the training standards and opportunities for current and future CSWs, among other things. The Association provides a professional network, improving information exchange, professional standards and support. The qualifications and experience of CSWs varies: some are fully qualified interpreters, others are not. There is a Level 3 Certificate in Communication Support for Deaf Learners available from Signature;[22] this qualification is modelled on standards for learning support in Further Education only and is not required by all employers.

Let Sign Shine

Let Sign Shine is a campaign started by Norfolk teenager Jade Chapman to raise the awareness of British Sign Language (BSL) and attract signatures for a petition for BSL to be taught in schools. The campaign's petition to the Parliament of the United Kingdom has attracted support from over four thousand people.

Chapman was nominated for the Bernard Matthews Youth Award 2014 for her work and devotion to raising awareness of the importance of sign language. Chapman won the education award category and was presented with an award by Olympic swimmer Rebecca Adlington.[23]

Chapman was also awarded an Outstanding Achievement Award from the Radio Norwich 99.9 Local Hero Awards on 7 October 2015. The award ceremony featured a performance by Alesha Dixon.[24]

Having been donated £1,000 from the Bernard Matthews Youth Award, Let Sign Shine used this to start a British Sign Language course at Dereham Neatherd High School.[25]

See also


  1. ^ British Sign Language (BSL) at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ "BSL on paper" (PDF). Retrieved 27 June 2016.
  3. ^ "British Sign Language Legislation". Retrieved 27 September 2016.
  4. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "British Sign Language". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  5. ^ IPSOS Mori GP Patient Survey 2009/10
  6. ^ 2011 Census: Quick Statistics for England and Wales, March 2011, Accessed 17 February 2013.
  7. ^ Deaf people and linguistic research Archived 2011-06-04 at the Wayback Machine, Professor Bencie Woll, Director of the Deafness, Cognition and Language Research Centre based at University College London. British Science Association. Accessed October 2010.
  8. ^ Kyle & Woll (1985).Sign Language: the study of deaf people and their language Cambridge University Press, p. 263
  9. ^ Sign Language: The Study of Deaf People and Their Language J. G. Kyle, B. Woll, G. Pullen, F. Maddix, Cambridge University Press, 1988. ISBN 0521357179
  10. ^ "Official recognition of British Sign Language 1987-2003 – suggested reading | UCL UCL Ear Institute & Action on Hearing Loss Libraries". Retrieved 3 March 2015.
  11. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Sutton-Spence, Rachel (1999). The Linguistics of British Sign Language. University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom: Press Syndicate Of The University Of Cambridge.
  12. ^ a b Morgan, Gary (October 2006). "'Children Are Just Lingual': The Development of Phonology in British Sign Language (BSL)". Lingua. 116.
  13. ^ a b McArthur, Tom (January 2018). "British Sign Language". The Oxford Companion to the English Language.
  14. ^ "Grammatical Structure of British Sign Language · coHearentVision". 23 April 2013. Archived from the original on 23 April 2013.
  15. ^ Sutton-Spence, R.; Woll, B. (1999). The Linguistics of British Sign Language: An Introduction. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9780521637183. Retrieved 7 December 2014.
  16. ^ McKee, D. & G. Kennedy (2000). Lexical Comparison of Signs from American, Australian, British, and New Zealand Sign Languages. In K. Emmorey and H. Lane (Eds), "The signs of language revisited: an anthology to honor Ursula Bellugi and Edward Klima". Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc.
  17. ^ Johnston, T. (2002). BSL, Auslan and NZSL: Three sign languages or one? In A. Baker, B. van den Bogaerde & O. Crasborn (Eds.), "Cross-linguistic perspectives in sign language research: Selected papers from TISLR 2000" (pp. 47-69). Hamburg: Signum Verlag.
  18. ^ Sutton-Spence, Rachel; Woll, Bencie (1998). The Linguistics of British Sign Language: An Introduction. Cambridge University Press. pp. 24–25. ISBN 0521631424.
  19. ^ "British Sign Language (BSL) Statistics".
  20. ^ "Institute of British Sign Language - Promoting Quality in British Sign Language".
  21. ^ "BSL Academy Homepage".
  22. ^ "Communication Support | Signature". Retrieved 7 December 2014.
  23. ^ East Anglian Daily Press, [1], Photo Gallery: Incredible young people from Norfolk and Suffolk are honoured with special awards.
  24. ^ Let Sign Shine, [2], Norwich Radio Local Hero Award.
  25. ^ BBC News, [3], Teenage campaigner Jade Chapman sets up sign language course with prize.

External links


Auslan is the sign language of the Australian Deaf community. The term Auslan is a portmanteau of "Australian Sign Language", coined by Trevor Johnston in the early 1980s, although the language itself is much older. Auslan is related to British Sign Language (BSL) and New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL); the three have descended from the same parent language, and together comprise the BANZSL language family. Auslan has also been influenced by Irish Sign Language (ISL) and more recently has borrowed signs from American Sign Language (ASL).

As with other sign languages, Auslan's grammar and vocabulary is quite different from English. Its development cannot be attributed to any individual; rather, it is a natural language that developed organically over time.The number of people for whom Auslan is their primary or preferred language is difficult to determine. According to the 2001, 2006 and 2011 Censuses published by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the population of Auslan users in Australia has increased by 54.57% over the same time period thus debunking the speculation that Auslan is an endangered language. As of 2011, the Census population of Auslan users in Australia is 9723 - an increase of 4417 new users from the 2001 Census. Based on this statistical trajectory, it is expected that the number of people for whom Auslan is their primary or preferred language could exceed 12000 in the 2016 Census. Although the number is increasing, approximately 5% of all Auslan users are acquiring the language from their parents with the rest learning the language from other peers such as friends or colleagues later in life.


BANZSL, or British, Australian and New Zealand Sign Language, is the language of which British Sign Language (BSL), Auslan and New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL) may be considered dialects. These three languages may technically be considered dialects of a single language (BANZSL) due to their use of the same grammar, manual alphabet, and the high degree of lexical overlap. The term BANZSL was coined by Trevor Johnston and Adam Schembri.

BSL, Auslan and NZSL all have their roots in a deaf sign language used in Britain during the 19th century.

American Sign Language and BANZSL are unrelated sign languages. However there is still significant overlap in vocabulary, probably due largely to relatively recent borrowing of lexicon by signers of all three dialects of BANZSL, with many younger signers unaware which signs are recent imports.

Between Auslan, BSL and NZSL, 82% of signs are identical (per Swadesh lists). When considering identical as well as similar or related signs there are 98% cognate signs between the languages. By comparison, ASL and BANZSL have only 31% signs identical, or 44% cognate.

According to Henri Wittmann (1991), Swedish Sign Language also descends from BSL. From Swedish SL arose Portuguese Sign Language and Finnish Sign Language, the latter with local admixture; Danish Sign Language is largely mutually intelligible with Swedish SL, though Wittmann places it in the French Sign Language family.


Fingerspelling (or dactylology) is the representation of the letters of a writing system, and sometimes numeral systems, using only the hands. These manual alphabets (also known as finger alphabets or hand alphabets), have often been used in deaf education, and have subsequently been adopted as a distinct part of a number of sign languages; there are about forty manual alphabets around the world. Historically, manual alphabets have had a number of additional applications—including use as ciphers, as mnemonics, and in silent religious settings.

Four Weddings and a Funeral

Four Weddings and a Funeral is a 1994 British romantic comedy film directed by Mike Newell. It was the first of several films by screenwriter Richard Curtis to feature Hugh Grant, and follows the adventures of Charles (Grant) and his circle of friends through a number of social occasions as they each encounter romance. Andie MacDowell stars as Charles' love interest Carrie, with Kristin Scott Thomas, James Fleet, Simon Callow, John Hannah, Charlotte Coleman, David Bower, Corin Redgrave and Rowan Atkinson in supporting roles.

It was made in six weeks and cost under £3 million, becoming an unexpected success and the highest-grossing British film in history at the time, with worldwide box office in excess of $245.7 million, and receiving Academy Award nominations for Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay. In addition to this, Grant won the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor - Motion Picture Musical or Comedy and the BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role, and the film also won the BAFTA Awards Best Film, Best Direction and Best Actress in a Supporting Role for Scott Thomas. The success of the film propelled Hugh Grant to international stardom, particularly in the United States.In 1999, Four Weddings and a Funeral placed 23rd on the British Film Institute's 100 greatest British films of the 20th century. In 2017 a poll of 150 actors, directors, writers, producers and critics for Time Out magazine ranked it the 74th best British film ever.Curtis reunited director Newell and the surviving cast for a 25th anniversary reunion Comic Relief short entitled One Red Nose Day and a Wedding, which aired in the UK during Red Nose Day on Friday 15 March 2019.

Gambian Sign Language

Gambian Sign Language is a national sign language used in Gambia by the deaf community there. The only school for deaf children in the Gambia, St John's School for the Deaf, was set up by a Catholic priest from Ireland. Dutch Sign Language was introduced to the school along with British Sign Language which developed into Gambian Sign Language, incorporating some indigenous gestures used by the general population. Unlike much of West Africa, American Sign Language was not introduced to the Gambia until much later so the deaf community is not familiar with American Sign Language.

Irish Sign Language

Irish Sign Language (ISL, Irish: Teanga Chomharthaíochta na hÉireann) is the sign language of Ireland, used primarily in the Republic of Ireland. It is also used in Northern Ireland, alongside British Sign Language (BSL). Irish Sign Language is more closely related to French Sign Language (LSF) than to BSL, though it has influence from both languages. It has influenced sign languages in Australia and South Africa, and has little relation to either spoken Irish or English.

Languages of the United Kingdom

English, in various dialects, is the most widely spoken language of the United Kingdom, however there are a number of regional languages also spoken. There are 14 indigenous languages used across the British Isles: 5 Celtic, 3 Germanic, 3 Romance, and 3 sign languages. There are also many immigrant languages spoken in the British Isles, mainly within inner city areas; these languages are mainly from South Asia and Eastern Europe.

The de facto official language of the United Kingdom is English, which is spoken by approximately 59.8 million residents, or 98% of the population, over the age of three. In 2019, some three quarters of a million people spoke little or no English. An estimated 700,000 people speak Welsh in the UK, an official language in Wales and the only de jure official language in any part of the UK. Approximately 1.5 million people in the UK speak Scots—although there is debate as to whether this is a distinct language, or a variety of English.

List of sign languages by number of native signers

The following are sign languages reported to be spoken by at least 10,000 people.

Estimates for sign language use are very crude, and definitions of what counts as proficiency varied. For most sign languages we do not have even a crude estimate. For instance, there are reported to be a million signers in Ethiopia, but it is unknown which or how many sign languages they use.

The 2013 edition of Ethnologue lists 137 sign languages.

Maltese Sign Language

Maltese Sign Language (Maltese: Lingwa tas-Sinjali Maltija, LSM) is a young sign language of Malta. It developed into its modern form c. 1980 with the establishment of the first deaf club in Malta and subsequently with its use in education for the deaf. LSM's prior history is unrecorded, though there are some signs which indicate contact with British Sign Language (Malta was a British colony until 1964). These signs are relatively few, however, and LSM is not part of the BSL family (Brentari 2010).

Maria Galea has described the use of SignWriting when used to write Maltese Sign Language.The Maltese public broadcaster PBS Ltd. began airing a nightly newscast in LSM on its TVM2 network in 2012.

Maritime Sign Language

Maritime Sign Language (MSL), is a sign language descended from British Sign Language and used in Canada's Atlantic provinces. It was created through the convergence of deaf communities from the Northeastern United States and the United Kingdom immigrating to Canada throughout the 1700s and 1800s. It is unknown the extent to which this language is spoken today, though there are linguistic communities found across the Atlantic provinces. MSL is being supplanted by American Sign Language (ASL) resulting in fewer MSL speakers and a lack of resources (education, interpretation, etc.) for MSL speakers.

The dialect of ASL currently used in the Maritimes exhibits some lexical influence from MSL. ASL is now the main language that is used by the Deaf community in Newfoundland, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island. Due to the expansion of ASL, there are fewer than 100 MSL users.

New Zealand Sign Language

New Zealand Sign Language or NZSL (Māori: Te Reo Rotarota) is the main language of the deaf community in New Zealand. It became an official language of New Zealand in April 2006, alongside English and Māori. However, the rights and obligations to use the language are restricted to court proceedings.New Zealand Sign Language has its roots in British Sign Language (BSL), and may be technically considered a dialect of British, Australian and New Zealand Sign Language (BANZSL). There are 62.5% similarities found in British Sign Language and NZSL, compared with 33% of NZSL signs found in American Sign Language.Like other natural sign languages, it was devised by and for deaf people, with no linguistic connection to a spoken or written language.

It uses the same two-handed manual alphabet as BSL (British Sign Language) and Auslan (Australian Sign Language).

It uses more lip-patterns in conjunction with hand and facial movement to cue signs than BSL, reflecting New Zealand's history of oralist education of deaf people. Its vocabulary includes Māori concepts such as marae and tangi, and signs for New Zealand placenames. (E.g. Rotorua - mudpools, Wellington - windy breeze, Auckland - Sky Tower, Christchurch - 2 Cs, represents ChCh.)

Northern Ireland Sign Language

Northern Ireland Sign language (NISL) is a sign language used mainly by deaf people in Northern Ireland.

NISL is described as being related to Irish Sign Language (ISL) at the syntactic level while the lexicon is based on British Sign Language (BSL) and American Sign Language (ASL).A number of practitioners see Northern Ireland Sign Language as a distinct and separate language from both BSL and ISL though "many 'Anglo-Irish' Northern Irish signers argue against the use of the acronym NISL and believe that while their variety is distinct, it is still a part of British Sign Language."As of March 2004 the British Government recognises only British Sign Language and Irish Sign Language as the official sign languages used in Northern Ireland.

Old Kentish Sign Language

Old Kentish Sign Language (OKSL, also Old Kent Sign Language) is an extinct village sign language of 17th-century Kent in the United Kingdom, that has since been superseded by British Sign Language.

According to Peter Webster Jackson (2001), OKSL may have been the language used by a deaf boy described by 17th century British writer Samuel Pepys in his Diaries. Pepys was dining with his friend Sir George Downing on 9 November 1666, when the deaf servant had a conversation in sign language with his master, which included news of the Great Fire of London. Downing had been to school near Maidstone in Kent, where he lived in a community where congenital deafness was widespread. This population supported a sign language which was known by many hearing people as well as deaf.As settlers of the Martha's Vineyard communities of Tisbury and Chilmark in Massachusetts migrated from the Kentish Weald, Nora Groce (1985) speculates that OKSL may be the origin of Martha's Vineyard Sign Language, which is, in turn, one of the precursors of American Sign Language (ASL). Others have cautioned against uncritical reception of this claim, "because no deaf people were part of the original migration from Kent, and nothing is known about any specific variety of signing used in Kent."

Paget Gorman Sign System

The Paget Gorman Sign System, also known as Paget Gorman Signed Speech (PGSS) or Paget Gorman Systematic Sign Language is a manually coded form of the English language, designed to be used with children with speech or communication difficulties.

PGSS was originally developed in Britain by Sir Richard Paget in the 1930s, and later by Lady Grace Paget and Dr Pierre Gorman. The system uses 37 basic signs and 21 standard hand postures, which can be combined to represent a large vocabulary of English words, including word endings and verb tenses.

The system was widespread in Deaf schools in the UK from the 1960s to the 1980s, but since the emergence of British Sign Language and the BSL-based Signed English in deaf education, its use is now largely restricted to the field of speech and language disorder.

Stokoe notation

Stokoe notation () is the first phonemic script used for sign languages. It was created by William Stokoe for American Sign Language (ASL), with Latin letters and numerals used for the shapes they have in fingerspelling, and iconic glyphs to transcribe the position, movement, and orientation of the hands. It was first published as the organizing principle of Sign Language Structure: An Outline of the Visual Communication Systems of the American Deaf (1960), and later also used in A Dictionary of American Sign Language on Linguistic Principles, by Stokoe et al. (1965). In the 1965 dictionary, signs are themselves arranged alphabetically, according to their Stokoe transcription, rather than being ordered by their English glosses as in other sign-language dictionaries. This made it the only ASL dictionary where the reader could look up a sign without first knowing how to translate it into English. The Stokoe notation was later adapted to British Sign Language (BSL) in Kyle et al. (1985) and to Australian Aboriginal sign languages in Kendon (1988). In each case the researchers modified the alphabet to accommodate phonemes not found in ASL.

The Stokoe notation is mostly restricted to linguists and academics. The notation is arranged linearly on the page and can be written with a typewriter that has the proper font installed. Unlike SignWriting or the Hamburg Notation System, it is based on the Latin alphabet and is phonemic, being restricted to the symbols needed to meet the requirements of ASL (or extended to BSL, etc.) rather than accommodating all possible signs. For example, there is a single symbol for circling movement, regardless of whether the plane of the movement is horizontal or vertical.

Swedish Sign Language family

The Swedish Sign Language family is a language family of sign languages, including Swedish Sign Language, Portuguese Sign Language, and Finnish Sign Language.

Swedish SL started about 1800. Wittmann (1991) proposes that it descends from British Sign Language. Regardless, Swedish SL in turn gave rise to Portuguese Sign Language (1823) and Finnish Sign Language (1850s), the latter with local admixture; Finnish and Swedish Sign are mutually unintelligible.

Ethnologue reports that Danish Sign Language is largely mutually intelligible with Swedish Sign, though Wittmann places DSL in the French Sign Language family.

There are no known dialects in the Swedish Sign Language, however, it is partly intelligible with other manual languages such as Danish (DSL), Norwegian (NSL), and Finnish (FSE).

The Piano

The Piano is a 1993 New Zealand drama film about a mute piano player and her daughter, set during the mid-19th century in a rainy, muddy frontier backwater town on the west coast of New Zealand. It revolves around the musician's passion for playing the piano and her efforts to regain her piano after it is sold. The Piano was written and directed by Jane Campion and stars Holly Hunter, Harvey Keitel, Sam Neill, and Anna Paquin in her first acting role. The film's score by Michael Nyman became a best-selling soundtrack album, and Hunter played her own piano pieces for the film. She also served as sign language teacher for Paquin, earning three screen credits. The film is an international co-production by Australian producer Jan Chapman with the French company Ciby 2000.

The Piano was a critical and commercial success, grossing US$140 million worldwide against its US$7 million budget. Hunter and Paquin both received high praise for their respective roles as Ada and Flora McGrath. In 1993, the film won the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival. It won three Academy Awards out of eight total nominations in March 1994: Best Actress for Hunter, Best Supporting Actress for Paquin, and Best Original Screenplay for Campion. Paquin was 11 years old at the time and is the second youngest actor to win an Oscar in a competitive category.

The Silent Child

The Silent Child is a British sign-languaged short film written by and starring Rachel Shenton and directed by Chris Overton, and released in 2017 by Slick Films. It tells the story of Libby, a profoundly deaf four-year-old girl, who lives a silent life until a social worker, played by Shenton, teaches her how to communicate through sign language. The film won the Oscar for Live Action Short Film at the 90th Academy Awards.

Thursday's Children

Thursday's Children is a 1954 British short documentary film directed by Guy Brenton and Lindsay Anderson about The Royal School for the Deaf in Margate, Kent, UK. The film is nearly silent, apart from music and narration. It focuses on the faces and gestures of the little boys and girls. As a residential school teaching lip reading, rather than a sign language, it features methods and goals not now used, and notes that only one child in three will achieve true speech. Filmmakers Lindsay Anderson and Guy Brenton were unable to gain distribution for the film until it won an Oscar in 1955 for Documentary Short Subject. The Academy Film Archive preserved Thursday's Children in 2005.

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