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Is sign language universal?


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Actually it is not universal at all. Even in a small country like Switzerland you got several DIFFERENT kinds of sign language. So it is kinda like different dialects of a language. It's an interesting question though, as earlier on, I also thought that maybe there is one universal sign language..however, I am 100 % sure now that this is not true.

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I'm wondering if sign language is universal. Is it like spoken language where different ethnics use different versions of the sign language? Or everywhere around the world uses only one form of sign language?

I would like to say that , it might not be the same to a certain level, but I do believe the baic sign language is universal, like counting and different  common thing s like hospital restaurant, I would say that those are universal.

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No, sign language is not universal! Someone from Europe would have a hard time understanding an American, because the symbols (is that what you call it) are completely different! I'm not even sure that the basics are the same. I think it's similar to spoken languages, really.

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I was under the impression all along that sign language is universal but seems not like it. Glad I asked otherwise I wouldn't have known about this. Seems like really inconvenient.

It's as inconvenient as spoken languages, really. I find it awesome rather than inconvenient. It is just something that you wouldn't think existed until you heard about it! Perhaps there is a lingua franca of sorts, for sign language? Like English is the language you speak when meeting a foreigner.

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I'm wondering if sign language is universal. Is it like spoken language where different ethnics use different versions of the sign language? Or everywhere around the world uses only one form of sign language?

It really isn't, but wouldn't it be wonderful if it really was?  Sadly I used to think it was universal some years ago, when I was a kid but later I learnt that every country had a different sign language.  I thought it was as confusing a us with our spoken languages and all that diversity!

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Sign language is quite a popular way to communicate with deaf people, but I don't think it is popular enough to be a universal language. I believe English and Chinese are more popular than ever before!

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In the past I did think it was but later learnt it is not at all. However, I think that although sign language is diverse there is a form most common to most of us. You are more likely find more persons knowing the American form than any other form of sign language.

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  • 3 weeks later...

I think the concept of it is universal. But specific forms of sign language are not, of course. The concept is probably universal since what else would people do to communicate if they can't talk? I can't think of anything more logical than using hand signs...

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I think that sign language is universal. There are some people who are very good at learning sign language. In my region when there is very important news on TV they include a  presenter to interpret the information into sign language for the deaf audience.

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Learn something new everyday. I definitely thought sign language was universal and the same throughout every country in the world. I didn't know every country had slightly different versions of it. I think it would be better if it was the same for every country. Makes logical sense and would just make things easier on deaf people in general. Not sure what use it is to have different signs for a lot of different countries. Not practical at all.

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One of the main reasons that Sign Language is not universal is the fact that it is based on the words of a native language. Having Sign language directly associate with the native language makes it much easier for communication in the native land, and hence has deprived it from being universal. Though there will be some common universal signs, it won't be highly effective for it to be universal.

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Is sign language universal

As everyone above mentioned, it is not universal.  It isn't even universal in the same country.  My son (3) knows about a dozen ASL (American Sign Language) signs and my daughter 10 months currently knows two (we teach five at a time).  I decided to teach my kids to sign because it made communication much easier when they are young.

I'm a big fan of the show Switched at Birth on ABC Family.  Several of the characters is deaf and when I was reading articles about the background of the show, I learned that sign language isn't even consistent within the United States!  Just as there are different dialects of speech in various parts of the U.S., there are different kinds of signs in ASL.  The ASL coach for the show actually had to coach a lot of the actors and actresses who are deaf and who do use ASL to use one common dialect, so as not to confuse the viewers.

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Is sign language universal??

There was an attempt awhile back to make a universal sign language but I think the development of it has fallen through although some deaf individuals may use it with international friends. Since facial expression and placement of sign is universally part of the grammar structure of sign language, many deaf people of other countries only need am matter of hours before they begin trying to understand one another. This  might be similar to those of us with Latin based language's in common; we try to search for the words that have similar meaning. As has been mentioned on the posts already there are 100s of sign language around the world. I think that part of the difference is because many deaf do not school and began using 'home signs'. Those home signs began to develop in to the countries own sign languages. Then, for some countries who received volunteer help like South Africa for instance; signs from different nations began to meld together to form a unique sign language all their own. They might have one sign that is common in Ireland, another that is commonly used in England, and then another that is only based on local custom. For example, in the U.S. most people associate coffee with a coffee grinder, and so this is the sign in ASL for coffee. However, in Madagascar, many people purchase their coffee in gargottes (little snack shops) and so they get a tin cup with a spoon. Thus, the sign for coffee in Malagasy sign language is a cupped hand with your pinky finger stirring the sugar and milk. For both countries the sign becomes very clear. Then there are initialized signs, as was alluded to in another post; for Malagasy the word for justice is Rariny and it is signed with an R shaped hand. However, in other countries the word may begin with another letter or it may not be initialized at all as in the case of the ASL sign for justice. Regardless of which sign language one might use, it is universally regarded as a really 'cool' language for lack of a better expression. I often say sign language is like 'seeing' language. It is 3D as it were. Once you begin learning sign, you won't want to go back!

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  • 3 weeks later...

I have always heard it referred to as American sign language, so I assumed that means there are many different versions of it.  I am sure some form of sign language exists in every culture though.  Wherever there are deaf or hard of hearing people, they will find some way to communicate.

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Unfortunately, no.

However, wouldn't it be good if there was 1 universal sign language?

Then, wherever you went, you could use it to communicate. Would give a whole new meaning to talking with your hands :D

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I'm wondering if sign language is universal. Is it like spoken language where different ethnics use different versions of the sign language? Or everywhere around the world uses only one form of sign language?

wow, this question didn't occur to me until now. you just made me genuinely curious about the universality of sign language.  although off the top of my head, i'd probably say it isn't universal. as with many languages in the world, i'd think that sign language would also vary across nations.

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  • 3 years later...

I think that it has been shown very clearly that sign language is not universal. Apart from this misconception, there are several other things that you often hear about sign language that are not true at all. The following graphic will bust some other myths about Sign Language:Is Sign Language Universal question.jpg

 

 

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Impossible to think in a universal sign language; we have all hear about (and maybe some of us speaks) esperanto. A similar thnig happens with sign language.

Furthermore, facial expressions and physical gestures re really different from one culture to another. If you try to use your usual mimic (for "yes", "no", "I'm hungry", "I don't like", "what?", "stop" "how much?", "f*** off" etc.) in other contexts you'll see that a universal "natural" sign gesture is impossible.

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