eggscape asked:

Hello! I'm Canadian and we use British English here but i wanted to learn sign language so I just dove into ASL. Do you think I should stop and start learning BSL? Or just continue with ASL? 

Honestly, I have no clue. I live in Europe and my knowledge about the language situation in USA and Canada is sketchy at best.

But according to the internet, ASL is the most used sign language in Canada, not BSL, so, what would be the point in learning BSL? 

Or, if you want to learn a Canadian specific sign language, you could learn Quebec sign language. 

What do my canadian followers think about it?

I was with him in the hospitals so many times and we would ask for an interpreter, and they would say we would have to wait for one to be paged and they never came. They never came. They treated him like he was a regular hearing person, and he wasn’t.

He had special needs, and they never helped him, never gave him the interpreters that by law he was entitled to.

— 

Denise Berry, who is suing city hospitals for failing to provide for her deaf brother.

EXCLUSIVE: Hospitals’ failure to provide interpreter for deaf man led to his death, suit claims

vine

#deafsworstmoment : attempting to teach #ASL to a robot #aslfail #deaf

youtube

Hey what’s up guys? So lame-opea and I have been getting requests to do more music videos together. It’s crazy because since our first video of us signing songs for the first time together, Ashley has gotten SO MUCH better at singing songs. She is profoundly deaf and it’s crazy because she sings this song better than people who can hear. This weeks video we did my current favorite song To Love - Talking Body (remix). Hope you guys enjoy this little clip.

PS - sorry for the camera shake, we were dancing so hard that the floor was shaking. Enjoy.

So, you want to know more about sign languages?

Wait, what? Sign languageS? I thought there was only one, universal sign language!

Nope! There are many different sign languages - usually every country with a deaf community has its own sign languages, sometimes even more than one.

Okay, so how many sign languages are there?

No, seriously, not even linguists know exactly how many sign languages exist. The estimation is that there are approximately 300 sign languages.  

In some countries, different signs are used in cities and in rural areas - but we don’t know if they are just dialects/variations of one language or two different sign languages. Some countries share one sign language. New sign languages emerge quite frequently (and some are dying out.)

But hey, linguists don’t know exactly how many spoken languages are there either. ;)

Why don’t you just create an universal sign language? Wouldn’t it be easier?

Why don’t you create an universal spoken language, hm? But we actually did create an universal sign language - it’s called International Signs! However, it’s not really a sign language, since it’s man-made, it’s just a comunication system. It’s mainly used during international meetings, conferences, etc. 

But majority of deaf people don’t know it - usually only those who often travel abroad do.

So, you said that every country has its own sign language - are they based on spoken language? 

Nope! Sign languages are very diffent from spoken languages. They have their own grammar, rules and idioms.

Also, they don’t follow the same “borders”, so to speak. English speaking countries, for example, don’t share one sign language - USA has American Sign Language/ASL, UK has British Sign Language/BSL, Australia has AUSLAN, etc. And those sign languages are very different… ASL is more similar to French Sign language than to BSL! 

What about fingerspelling/manual alphabet, that’s the same everywhere, right?

Wrong again! Actually, every country has it’s own sign language alphabet. Some are for one hand, some are for two hands. They really look different, so don’t count on using fingerspelling when you meet someone from a different country.

Some examples: 

(ASL, BSL, Czech Sign Language)

Also, don’t forget that lot of countries don’t use latin alphabet. For example China. Then the fingerspelling looks completely differently or doesn’t exist at all. :) 

Do sign languages have a written form? 

No, they don’t. But it’s not that rare - lot of spoken languages don’t have a written form either.

There are some notation system used for writing the signs down - for example Stokoe notation. They are mainly used by linguists or in dictionaries. Mostly because they are complicated, not easy to learn and use and it takes a lot of time to write one sign.

There is also SignWriting, which is probably the most well known system for writing in sign language. 

There is also ASLwrite, used for ASL.

Honestly, there are numerous systems to write signs down, but not one is widely used and nobody can agree on which system is the best. They are definitely not used on everyday basis by deaf people (with some exceptions).

Deaf people usually use written form of spoken language of their country for written communication.

(Stokoe notation/SignWriting)

How do you know all this?

Well, I am Hard of Hearing. But mostly I know this stuff because I study sign language linguistics at university. I can still be wrong, though, so if you don’t agree with something written in this post, send me an ask and we can discuss it. :)

If you have any more questions, please send me (slecnaztemnot) an ask, and I will do my best to answer it! :)