Manually coded language

Manually coded languages are not themselves languages but are representations of oral languages in a gestural-visual form; that is, signed versions of oral languages (signed languages). Unlike the sign languages that have evolved naturally in deaf communities, which have distinct spatial structures, these manual codes (MCL) are the conscious invention of deaf and hearing educators, and mostly follow the grammar of the oral language—or, more precisely, of the written form of the oral language. They have been mainly used in deaf education in an effort to "represent English on the hands" and by sign language interpreters in K-12 schools, although they have had some influence on deaf sign languages where their implementation was widespread.


It is unknown when the first attempts were made to represent an oral language with gesture. Indeed, some have speculated that oral languages may have evolved from sign languages, and there may be undocumented cases in history when vocal and signed modes of a language existed side by side. It is not uncommon for people to develop gestures to replace words or phrases in contexts where speech is not possible or not permitted, such as in a television studio, but these are usually limited in scope and rarely develop into complete representations of an oral language. One of the most elaborated examples of this kind of auxiliary manual system is Warlpiri Sign Language, a complete signed mode of spoken Warlpiri which was developed by an Indigenous community in central Australia due to cultural proscriptions against speech. Sign language linguists usually make a distinction between these auxiliary sign languages and manually coded languages; the latter are specifically designed for use in Deaf education, and usually represent the written form of the language.

In seventh century England, the years of (672-735CE), Venerable Bede, a Benedictine monk, proposed a system for representing the letters of the Latin script on the fingers called fingerspelling. Monastic sign languages used throughout medieval Europe used manual alphabets as well as signs, and were capable of representing a written language, if one had enough patience. Aside from the commonly understood rationale of observing "vows of silence", they also served as mnemonics (memory aids) for preachers.[1] These manual alphabets began to be used to teach the deaf children of royalty in 17th century Spain. Such alphabets are in widespread use today by signing deaf communities for representing words or phrases of the oral language used in their part of the world.

The earliest known attempt to develop a complete signed mode of a language which could be used to teach deaf children was by the Abbé de l'Épée, an educator from 18th century France. While the Deaf community already used a sign language (now known as Old French Sign Language), Épée thought it must be primitive, and set about designing a complete visual-gestural system to represent the concepts of religion and law that he wanted to impart to his pupils. His system of signes méthodiques (usually known in English as "Methodical Signs") was quite idiosyncratic, and although it wasn't a strict representation of French, its success laid the groundwork for the "signed oral languages" of today. The real proliferation of such systems occurred in the latter half of the 20th century, and by the 1980s manually coded languages were the dominant form of communication used by teachers and interpreters in classrooms with deaf students in many parts of the world. Most sign language "interpreting" seen on television in the 1970s and 1980s would have in fact been a transliteration of an oral language into a manually coded language.

The emerging recognition of sign languages in recent times has curbed the growth of manually coded languages, and in many places interpreting and educational services now favor the use of the natural sign languages of the Deaf community. In some parts of the world, MCLs continue to be developed and supported by state institutions; a contemporary example is Arabic Sign Language. Some MCL systems (such as the Paget Gorman Sign System) have survived by shifting their focus from deaf education to people with other kinds of communication needs.


The use of MCLs is controversial and has been opposed since Épée's time by "oralists" who believe Deaf people should speak, lipread and use hearing aids rather than sign—and on the other side by members of the ASL Community (see Deaf culture) who resist a wide or exclusive application of MCLs for both philosophical and practical reasons. English is not fully able to express the Deaf Experience, and just as written forms of spoken languages are useful but cumbersome for daily communication, these manual codes cannot supplant a natural Signed Language. Nevertheless elements of these systems have had some influence on deaf sign languages (see Contact Sign).

Research in the U.S. has shown that manually coded English is usually applied incompletely and inconsistently in classrooms: Hearing teachers tend to "cut corners" by not signing word endings and "function words", most likely because they slow down the pace and distort the phrasing of the teacher's natural speech. The result is a kind of "Pidgin Sign English" which lacks the grammatical complexity of both English and American Sign Language.

Major approaches

There have been many different approaches to manually coding oral languages. Some consist of fingerspelling everything, a technique sometimes known in English as the "Rochester method" after Rochester School for the Deaf in New York where it was used from 1878 until the 1940s. While most MCLs are slower than spoken or sign languages, this method is especially so and in modern times is generally considered not to be accessible to children. However, some deafblind people still communicate primarily using the Rochester Method. Most manually coded languages can accommodate Simultaneous Communication—that is, signing and speaking at the same time—although the natural pace of speech may need to be slowed down at times.

The Paget Gorman Sign System (PGSS) is an MCL that began development in the 1930s by Sir Richard Paget. He studied extant sign languages and looked to create an easier way to understand signs that were pantomimic in nature. He worked with Grace Paget (his wife) and Pierre Gorman, who both took over his work after his death in 1955. Paget published a book in 1951 focusing on children's vocabulary that included 900 signs.

In 1964, PGSS was taught for the first time to a group of deaf adults in a experiment. It evolved from education for the deaf to teaching those with speech and language disorders. New systems were developed for deaf adults to transition into British Sign Language (BSL), thus causing the pivot in use.

PGSS currently has an estimated 56,000 word combinations.[2]

Signed oral languages

These systems ("Signed English", "Signed German" and so on) were the vehicle for the world-wide explosion of MCLs in deaf education in the second half of the 20th century, and are what is generally meant by the phrase "manually coded language" today. They aim to be a word-for-word representation of the written form of an oral language, and accordingly require the development of an enormous vocabulary. They usually achieve this by taking signs ("lexicon") from the local deaf sign language as a base, then adding specially created signs for words and word endings that don't exist in the deaf sign language, often using "initializations", and filling in any gaps with fingerspelling. Thus "Signed English" in America (based on ASL) has a lexicon quite different from "Signed English" in Britain (based on BSL), as well as the Signed Englishes of Ireland, Australasia and South Africa. "Signing Exact English" (SEE2) was developed in the United States in 1969, has also been taught around the world, and is now used in deaf schools in Singapore, and taught in classes by the Singapore Association for the Deaf.[3]

Mouth–Hand Systems

Another widespread approach is to visually represent the phonemes (sounds) of an oral language, rather than using signs for the words. These systems are sometimes known as "Mouth Hand Systems" (MHS). An early example was developed in Denmark in 1903 by Georg Forchhammer.[4] Others include the Assisted Kinemes Alphabet (Belgium) and a Persian system developed in 1935 by Jabar Baghtcheban[5]—in addition to the most widespread MHS worldwide, Cued Speech. As the entire set of phonemes for an oral language is small (English has 35 to 45, depending on the dialect), an MHS is relatively easy to adapt for other languages. As of 2006, 60 languages or dialects have Cued Speech systems, though many are not in use or in marginal use.

Cued Speech can be seen as a manual supplement to lipreading. A small number of hand shapes (representing consonants) and locations near the mouth (representing vowels) differentiate between sounds not distinguishable from on the lips; in tonal languages, the inclination and movement of the hand follows the tone. When viewed together with lip patterns, the gestures render all phonemes of the oral language intelligible visually.

Cued Speech is not traditionally referred to as a manually coded language; although it was developed with the same aims as the signed oral languages, to improve English language literacy in Deaf children, it follows the sounds rather than the written form of the oral language. Thus, speakers with different accents will "cue" differently.

List of signed languages

Below are some of the signed systems that have been developed for various oral languages. They range from formal systems that encode the grammar of the oral language, to informal systems of using sign together with speech, to translating oral words one-by-one to sign.

See Australian Aboriginal sign languages for traditional manually coded languages such as Warlpiri Sign Language.

Language Signed encoding
Afrikaans Signed Afrikaans (signs of SASL)
Amharic Signed Amharic[6]
Arabic Signed Arabic
Mandarin Chinese Wenfa Shouyu 文法手語 ("Grammatical Sign Language", Signed Mandarin (Taiwan))[7]
Danish Signed Danish[8]
Dutch Nederlands met Gebaren, NmG (Signed Dutch, the Netherlands)
English (see Manually Coded English) The "Rochester Method"—(different manual alphabets are used in different regions). Signed English depends on signs from the local sign language.
- American English American Signed English; Seeing Essential English (SEE1); Signing Exact English (SEE2); Linguistics of Visual English (LOVE); Conceptually Accurate Signed English (CASE)
- Australian English Australasian Signed English
- British English British Signed English; Sign Supported Speech (SSS) or Sign Supported English (SSE) (speaking English with key-word signing); Paget Gorman Signed Speech (PGSS)
- Hiberno-English (Ireland) Irish Signed English, using signs from Irish Sign Language (Ireland) and Signed English, using signs from Northern Ireland Sign Language (Northern Ireland)
- Kenyan English Kenya Signed English
- South African English South African Signed English (using SASL signs)
Esperanto Signuno (proposed)
Finnish Signed Finnish[9]
French le Français Signé (Signed French, France)
- Belgian French Signed French (Belgium)
- Canadian French Signed French (Canada)
German Signed German - Lautsprachbegleitende Gebärden (LBG, "signs accompanying speech") and Lautsprachunterstützende Gebärden (LUG, "signs supporting speech")[10]
Hebrew Signed Hebrew (oral Hebrew accompanied by sign)[11]
Hindi-Urdu and other Indian languages Indian Signing System (ISS) (vocabulary taken from ISL, adapted to at least 6 Indian languages)
Indonesian Sistem Isyarat Bahasa Indonesia (SIBI, "Signed Indonesian")
Italian italiano segnato "Signed Italian" & italiano segnato esatto "Signed Exact Italian"
Japanese Signed Japanese, 日本語対応手話 (also known as Manually Coded Japanese, Simultaneous Methodic Signs)
Malay Bahasa Malaysia Kod Tangan (BMKT) (Manually Coded Malay)
Nepali Signed Nepali, also known as Sign-Supported Nepali
Norwegian Signed Norwegian[12]
Polish System Językowo-Migowy (SJM) (Signed Polish); Signing Exact Polish
Portuguese Signed Portuguese
Russian Signed Russian
Spanish Signed Spanish (Mexico, Spain, and presumably elsewhere; also Signed Catalan)
Swedish Tecknad svenska, ("Signed Swedish"), developed in the 1970s but now largely out of use
Urdu Signed Urdu (Pakistan)[13]
Xhosa Signed Xhosa (and similarly other official languages of South Africa)

See also

  • Contact sign—A variety or style of signing arising from contact between a spoken or manually coded language and a deaf sign language.
  • Manual alphabet—a means of representing the written alphabet of an oral language, but often a central part of natural sign languages.
  • Makaton


  1. ^ "Manually Coded Language and Alternate Sign Systems · Deaf: Cultures and Communication, 1600 to the Present · Online Exhibits@Yale". Retrieved 2017-09-06.
  2. ^ "Paget Gorman Signed Speech | Our History". Retrieved 2017-09-08.
  3. ^ Sign Language Archived 2007-03-02 at the Wayback Machine (Singapore Association or the Deaf website)
  4. ^ Birch-Rasmussen, S. (1982). Mundhandsystemet. Copenhagen: Doves Center for Total Kommunikation.
    Reynolds, Brian Watkins (1980). Speechreading training related to the Danish mouth handsystem for adventitiously hearing impaired adults. Ann Arbor : U.M.I. 1980 - 145 p. Dissertation: Purdue Univ.
  5. ^ Deaf Way II Presentation On Iranian Deaf Culture, by Abbas Ali Behmanesh
  6. ^ [1]
  7. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2014-01-10. Retrieved 2014-01-10.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  8. ^ Danish Sign Language at Ethnologue (17th ed., 2013)
  9. ^ Finnish Sign Language at Ethnologue (17th ed., 2013)
  10. ^ article on German Wikipedia about LBG and LUG
  11. ^ Meir & Sandler, 2013, A Language in Space: The Story of Israeli Sign Language
  12. ^ Norwegian Sign Language at Ethnologue (17th ed., 2013)
  13. ^ "Indo-Pakistani Sign Language", Encyclopedia of Language and Linguistics
  • ISO 639-2 codes for "signed oral languages" (e.g. Ethnologue Table C)
  • Cued Languages – list of languages and dialects to which Cued Speech has been adapted.
  • Sign Languages and Codes of the World by Region and by Name – Gallaudet University library online
  • Rehab Council of India
  • Kluwin, T. (1981). The grammaticality of manual representation of English in classroom settings. American Annals of the Deaf, 126, 417-421.
  • Marmor, G. & Pettito, L. (1979). Simultaneous communication in the classroom: How well is English grammar represented? Sign Language Studies, 23, 99-136.
  • Woodward, J. & Allen, T. (1988). Classroom use of artificial sign systems by teachers. Sign Language Studies, 61, 405-418.

External links

Australian Aboriginal sign languages

Many Australian Aboriginal cultures have or traditionally had a manually coded language, a signed counterpart of their oral language. This appears to be connected with various speech taboos between certain kin or at particular times, such as during a mourning period for women or during initiation ceremonies for men, as was also the case with Caucasian Sign Language but not Plains Indian Sign Language, which did not involve speech taboo, or deaf sign languages, which are not encodings of oral language. There is some similarity between neighboring groups and some contact pidgin similar to Plains Indian Sign Language in the American Great Plains.

Sign languages appear to be most developed in areas with the most extensive speech taboos: the central desert (particularly among the Warlpiri and Warumungu), and western Cape York. Complex gestural systems have also been reported in the southern, central, and western desert regions, the Gulf of Carpentaria (including north-east Arnhem Land and the Tiwi Islands), some Torres Strait Islands, and the southern regions of the Fitzmaurice and Kimberley areas. Evidence for sign languages elsewhere is slim, but they have been noted as far south as the south coast (Jaralde Sign Language) and there are even some accounts from the first few years of the 20th century of the use of sign by people from the south west coast. However, many of the codes are now extinct, and very few accounts have recorded any detail.

Reports on the status of deaf members of such Aboriginal communities differ, with some writers lauding the inclusion of deaf people in mainstream cultural life, while others indicate that deaf people do not learn the sign language and, like other deaf people isolated in hearing cultures, develop a simple system of home sign to communicate with their immediate family. However, an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander dialect of Auslan exists in Far North Queensland (extending from Yarrabah to Cape York), which is heavily influenced by the indigenous sign languages and gestural systems of the region.

Sign languages were noted in north Queensland as early as 1908 (Roth). Early research into indigenous sign was done by the American linguist La Mont West, and later, in more depth, by English linguist Adam Kendon.

Finnish Sign Language

Finnish Sign Language (suomalainen viittomakieli in Finnish) is the sign language most commonly used in Finland. There are 5000 (estimate) Finnish deaf who have Finnish Sign Language as a mother tongue. Linguistically Finnish Sign Language is closest to Swedish Sign Language, from which it began to separate as an independent language in the middle of the 19th century.

Finnish legislation recognized Finnish Sign Language as one of Finland's domestic languages in 1995 when it was included in the renewed constitution. Finland then became the third country in the world to recognize a sign language as a natural language and the right to use it as a mother tongue.

Courses in "sign language" have been taught in Finland since the 1960s. At that time, instruction taught signs but followed Finnish word order (see Manually Coded Language). Later, as research on sign languages in general and Finnish Sign Language in particular determined that sign languages tend to have a very different grammar from oral languages, the teaching of Finnish Sign Language and Signed Finnish diverged.

Gesture language

Gesture language or gestural language may refer to:

Sign language, languages that use manual communication to convey meaning

Manually coded language, representations of oral languages in a gestural-visual form

Gesture, bodily actions to communicate particular messages, with or in place of speech

Indian Signing System

The Indian Signing System or Indian Sign System (ISS) is a convention for manually coded language used in India. It uses the words (signs) of Indian Sign Language with the word order and grammar of at least six official oral languages of India, including Hindi (Signed Hindi), Marathi (Signed Marathi), and Tamil (Signed Tamil).

Israeli Sign Language

Israeli Sign Language, or ISL, is the most commonly used sign language in the deaf community of Israel. Some other sign languages are also used in Israel, among them Al-Sayyid Bedouin Sign Language.

The history of ISL goes back to 1873 in Germany, where Marcus Reich, a German Jew, opened a special school for Jewish deaf children. At the time, it was considered one of the best of its kind, which made it popular with Jewish deaf children from all over the world as well as non-Jews. In 1932 several teachers from this school opened the first school for Jewish deaf children in Jerusalem. The sign language used in the Jerusalemite school was influenced by the German Sign Language (DGS), but other sign languages or signing systems brought by immigrants also contributed to the emerging language, which started out as a pidgin. A local creole gradually emerged, which became ISL.ISL still shares many features and vocabulary items with DGS, although it is too far apart today to be considered a dialect of the latter.

During the 1940s ISL became the language of a well-established community of Jewish deaf people in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. Today ISL is the most used and taught sign language in Israel, and serves as the main mode of communication for most deaf people in Israel, including Jewish, Muslim and Christian Arabs, Druze, and Bedouins. Some Arab, Druze, and Bedouin towns and villages have sign languages of their own.

In addition to ISL, there is also Hebrew manually coded language used as a tool to teaching deaf children the Hebrew language, and for communication between deaf and hearing people.

Japanese Sign Language

Japanese Sign Language (日本手話, Nihon Shuwa), also known by the acronym JSL, is the dominant sign language in Japan.

Languages of South Africa

At least thirty-five languages indigenous to South Africa are spoken in the Republic, eleven of which are official languages of South Africa: Afrikaans, IsiNdebele, Sepedi, SeSotho sa Borwa, SiSwati, XiTsonga, SeTswana, TshiVenḓa, IsiXhosa, IsiZulu, and South African Sign Language. South African English is also an official language, and is the de facto primary language used in parliamentary and state discourse, though all official languages are equal in legal status, and unofficial languages are protected under the Constitution of South Africa, though few are mentioned by any name.

Unofficial languages include SiPhuthi, SiHlubi, SiBhaca, SiLala, SiNhlangwini ("IsiZansi"), SiNrebele (SiSumayela), IsiMpondro, Khoekhoegowab, !Orakobab, Xirikobab, N|uuki, !Xunthali, Khwedam, KheLobedu, SePulana, HiPai, SeKutswe, SeṰokwa, SiThonga, SiLaNgomane, SheKgalagari, XiRonga and others. Most South Africans can speak more than one language, and there is very often a diglossia between official and unofficial language forms for speakers of the latter.

Dutch and English were the first official languages of South Africa from 1910 to 1925. Afrikaans was added as a part of Dutch in 1925, although in practice, Afrikaans effectively replaced Dutch, which fell into disuse. When South Africa became a republic in 1961, the official relationship changed such that Afrikaans was considered to include Dutch, and Dutch was dropped in 1984, so between 1984 and 1994, South Africa had two official languages: English and Afrikaans.English being the second language of many South Africans is the most widely used lingua franca, and language of secular authority. Many countries from around the world have turned to South Africa for their supply of low cost English and other educators.

Different government departments and official bodies use different terms to denote SeSotho sa Leboa ("Northern Sotho"), which is a standardised language largely based on SeKoni and SePedi. In South Africa, Southern Ndebele is known simply as Ndebele, as most speakers of Northern Ndebele live in Zimbabwe. This Northern Ndebele is thus also known as Zimbabwean Ndebele, as it is the language of the Ndebele of Mzilikazi and assimilated groups, including many Kalanga people. However, a third language known as "Ndebele" is the unofficial language previously called, in English, "Northern (Transvaal) Ndebele". This language was, after the Tomlinson Report, classed together with Southern Ndebele, although it is actually distinct as a Tekela language, spoken by the Ndebele of Gegana (Mthombeni), whereas the official language of IsiNdebele is a Zunda language, spoken by the Ndebele of Ndzundza and Manala.

Since taking power in the 1994 election, the ANC has promoted English as the main language of government, even if South Africans often take pride in using indigenous languages for any purpose. Afrikaans in its Eastern dialects (upon which the standardised form is based, in a process bringing it closer to Dutch) also features prominently in commerce together with English, as these are the languages associated with the racial hegemony.

In terms of linguistic classification, the official languages include these two West Germanic languages (English and Afrikaans) and nine SiNtu languages. Four of these are called Nguni languages (IsiZulu, IsiXhosa, SiSwati and IsiNdebele) and three are Sotho–Tswana languages (Sepedi, SeSotho sa Borwa, and SeTswana). XiTsonga is a Tswa–Ronga language, and TshiVenḓa falls into a group on its own.South African Sign Language is understood across the country, though sometimes sign-language interpreters use manually coded language.

Endangered languages include many of the Tekela Nguni languages, such as SiPhuthi or SiBhaca, northern Sotho languages such as KheLobedu, and the Eastern Sotho languages, such as SePulana and particularly HiPai which may be extinct.

Critically endangered languages include the Nǁng language, currently only represented by the N|uu dialect (N|uuki), which has at most three mother-tongue speakers, as well as the Southern Khoekhoe languages of !Orakobab and Xirikobab (with the third Khoekhoe language spoken in South Africa being Namagowab). The motto of the Northern Cape Province, Sa ǁa !aĩsi 'uĩsi, is in the N|uu language, and was written by !Uiki Elsie Vaalbooi. This language is the closest living relative of the ǀXam language and ǁXegwi language, now both thought to be extinct. The motto on the coat of arms of South Africa, !Ke eː ǀxarra ǁke, is written in the |Xam language.

These so-called "click languages" constitute what was formerly known as the "Khoe-Sān" language family, the members of which are now considered to fall into at least three separate language families: Khoe-Kwadi, Tuu, and Kx'a. The Kx'a language spoken in South Africa, !Xunthali, together with Khwedam (a Khoe-Kwadi language), are the local languages of the population of Platfontein derived from members of the 31 Battalion (SWATF), most of whom were Sān groups originally from Angola, conscripted as trackers during the South African Border War.

List of sign languages

There are perhaps three hundred sign languages in use around the world today. The number is not known with any confidence; new sign languages emerge frequently through creolization and de novo (and occasionally through language planning). In some countries, such as Sri Lanka and Tanzania, each school for the deaf may have a separate language, known only to its students and sometimes denied by the school; on the other hand, countries may share sign languages, although sometimes under different names (Croatian and Serbian, Indian and Pakistani). Deaf sign languages also arise outside educational institutions, especially in village communities with high levels of congenital deafness, but there are significant sign languages developed for the hearing as well, such as the speech-taboo languages used in aboriginal Australia. Scholars are doing field surveys to identify the world's sign languages.The following list is grouped into three sections :

Deaf sign languages, which are the preferred languages of Deaf communities around the world; these include village sign languages, shared with the hearing community, and Deaf-community sign languages

Auxiliary sign languages, which are not native languages but sign systems of varying complexity, used alongside spoken languages. Simple gestures are not included, as they do not constitute language.

Signed modes of spoken languages, also known as manually coded languages, which are bridges between signed and spoken languagesThe list of deaf sign languages is sorted regionally and alphabetically, and such groupings should not be taken to imply any genetic relationships between these languages (see List of language families).

Manual communication

Manual communication systems use articulation of the hands (hand signs, gestures) to mediate a message between persons. Being expressed manually, they are received visually, and sometimes tactually (see tactile signing). Manual communication, when it is a primary form of communication, may be enhanced by body language and facial expressions and other forms of communication.

Manual communication is employed in sign languages and in systems that are codes for oral languages (see Manually Coded Language).

Other, simpler forms of manual communication have also been developed. They are neither natural languages nor even a code that can fully render one. They communicate with a very limited set of signals about an even smaller set of topics and have been developed for situations where speech is not practical or permitted, or secrecy is desired.

Manually Coded Malay

Kod Tangan Bahasa Malaysia (KTBM), or Manually Coded Malay, is the only form of sign language recognized by the government in Malaysia as the language of communication for the Deaf. It is not itself a language, but a manually coded language, a signed form of oral Malay. It is adapted from American Sign Language (or perhaps Manually Coded English), with the addition of some local signs, and grammatical signs representing affixation of nouns and verbs as used in Malay. It is used in Deaf schools for the purpose of teaching the Malay language.

Manually coded English

Manually-Coded English (MCE) is a type of sign language that follow direct spoken English. The different codes of MCE vary in the levels of directness in following spoken English grammar. There may also be a combination with other visual clues, such as body language. MCE is typically used in conjunction with direct spoken English.

Manually coded language in South Africa

In South Africa, manually coded language is used in education, as a bridge between South African Sign Language (SASL) and the eleven official oral languages of the country. These codes apply the signs of SASL to the grammar of the oral languages, resulting in Signed English, Signed Afrikaans, Signed Xhosa, Signed Zulu, etc. They are not a natural form of communication among deaf people.

Manually coded language is commonly used instead of SASL for simultaneous translation from an oral language into sign, for example at the Deaf Forum that is held annually at different locations in the Western Cape. The result is that, while deaf people from different language communities can communicate with each other without difficulty in SASL, they cannot understand "sign language" interpreters unless they have been schooled in the particular manually coded language used by the interpreter. That is, while they share a common language in SASL, they differ in their understanding of Signed English, Signed Afrikaans, Signed Xhosa, etc., which are not a normal form of communication for anyone. This results is the common misconception among even deaf South Africans that there are various sign languages in the country, when in fact there is only one.A very different form of manually coded language is cued speech, an aid to lipreading which has been developed for Afrikaans, South African English, and Setswana.

Mixed language

A mixed language is a language that arises among a bilingual group, typically very abruptly, combining aspects of two or more languages but not clearly deriving primarily from any single language. It differs from a creole or pidgin language in that, whereas creoles/pidgins arise from populations trying to imitate a language where they have no fluency, a mixed language arises in a population that is fluent in both of the source languages.

Because all languages show some degree of mixing by virtue of containing loanwords, it is a matter of controversy whether the concept of a mixed language can meaningfully be distinguished from the contact phenomena of certain languages from the type of contact and borrowing seen in all languages. Scholars debate to what extent language mixture can be distinguished from other mechanisms such as code-switching, substrata, or lexical borrowing.

Plains Indian Sign Language

Plains Indian Sign Language (PISL), also known as Plains Sign Talk, Plains Sign Language and First Nation Sign Language, is a trade language (or international auxiliary language), formerly trade pidgin, that was once the lingua franca across central Canada, central and western United States and northern Mexico, used among the various Plains Nations. It was also used for story-telling, oratory, various ceremonies, and by deaf people for ordinary daily use. It is falsely believed to be a manually coded language or languages; however, there is not substantive evidence establishing a connection between any spoken language and Plains Sign Talk.

The name 'Plains Sign Talk' is preferred in Canada, with 'Indian' being considered pejorative by many. Hence, publications and reports on the language vary in naming conventions according to origin.

Sign language

Sign languages (also known as signed languages) are languages that use the visual-manual modality to convey meaning. Language is expressed via the manual signstream in combination with non-manual elements. Sign languages are full-fledged natural languages with their own grammar and lexicon. This means that sign languages are not universal and they are not mutually intelligible, although there are also striking similarities among sign languages.

Linguists consider both spoken and signed communication to be types of natural language, meaning that both emerged through an abstract, protracted aging process and evolved over time without meticulous planning. Sign language should not be confused with body language, a type of nonverbal communication.

Wherever communities of deaf people exist, sign languages have developed as handy means of communication and they form the core of local deaf cultures. Although signing is used primarily by the deaf and hard of hearing, it is also used by hearing individuals, such as those unable to physically speak, those who have trouble with spoken language due to a disability or condition (augmentative and alternative communication), or those with deaf family members, such as children of deaf adults.

It is unclear how many sign languages currently exist worldwide. Each country generally has its own, native sign language, and some have more than one. The 2013 edition of Ethnologue lists 137 sign languages. Some sign languages have obtained some form of legal recognition, while others have no status at all.Linguists distinguish natural sign languages from other systems that are precursors to them or derived from them, such as invented manual codes for spoken languages, home sign, "baby sign", and signs learned by non-human primates.

Sign language in Singapore

There is no officially recognized national sign language in Singapore. Since Singapore's independence in 1965, the Singapore deaf community has had to adapt to many linguistic changes. Today, the local deaf community recognizes Singapore Sign Language (SgSL) as a reflection of Singapore's diverse linguistic culture. SgSL is influenced by Shanghainese Sign Language (SSL), American Sign Language (ASL), Signing Exact English (SEE-II) and locally developed signs. The total number of deaf clients registered with The Singapore Association For The Deaf (SADeaf), an organisation that advocates equal opportunity for the deaf, is 5756, as of 2014. Among which, only about one-third stated their knowledge of Sign Language.

Signed French

Signed French (Français Signé) is any of at least three manually coded forms of French that apply the words (signs) of a national sign language to French word order or grammar. In France, Signed French uses the signs of French Sign Language; the Belgium system uses the signs of French Belgian Sign Language, and in Canada the signs of Quebec Sign Language. Signed French is used in education and for simultaneous translation, not as a natural form of communication among deaf people.

South African Sign Language

South African Sign Language (SASL) is the primary sign language spoken by Deaf in South Africa. It is an official language of South Africa. The South African government added a National Language Unit for South African Sign Language in 2001. SASL is not the only manual language spoken in South Africa, but it is the language that is being promoted as the language to be used by all Deaf in South Africa, although Deaf peoples in South Africa historically do not form a single group.

In 1995, the previous South African National Council for the Deaf (SANCD) was transformed into the Deaf Federation of South Africa (DeafSA), which resulted in a radical policy change in matters for deaf people in South Africa, such as the development and adoption of a single sign language and the promotion of sign language over oralism. Schools for the deaf have remained largely untransformed, however, and different schools for deaf children in South African still use different sign language systems, and at a number of schools for the deaf the use of any sign language is either discouraged or simply not taught. There are as many as twelve distinctly different dialects of sign language in South Africa.In addition to South African sign languages, American Sign Language (ASL) is also used by some Deaf people in South Africa. Most local sign languages in South Africa show the influence of American sign language.

SASL is the sign language that is used during television news casts in South Africa. Sign language is also used in the South African parliament, but different sign language interpreters are known to use different signs for the same concepts. There are around 40 schools for the Deaf in South Africa, most using a variety of SASL.

Sign language is explicitly mentioned in the South African constitution, and the South African Schools Act permits the study of the language in lieu of another official language at school.By 2011, there were 84 SASL interpreters on DeafSA's interpreter register, including 43 without any training, 31 who have completed 240 study hours of interpreter training, and 10 who have gained an additional 3 years' experience and completed a further 480 study hours. A total of 7 SASL interpreters have actually been accredited by SATI/DeafSA. SASL interpreters can apply for accreditation without having completed any formal training in SASL.

Warlpiri Sign Language

Warlpiri Sign Language, also known as Rdaka-rdaka (hand signs), is a sign language used by the Warlpiri, an Aboriginal community in the central desert region of Australia. It is one of the most elaborate, and certainly the most studied, of all Australian Aboriginal sign languages.

Language families[a]
By region[a]

This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.