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Is sign language universal?


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Just like spoken languages, sign language differs based from country to country, language to language as long as the community using it have a different enough language. So an American who's deaf won't necessarily know what a Spanish person who's deaf is saying.

Where I'm from, the sign language for the national language is different from the sign language of the second most popular language in the country. So there's that.

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Yes, it differs per country too, mainly because some of the signs used have linkage to a country's culture, which may not be understood by another country.  There may be some patterns especially for common words, but overall, you would have to be familiar with the sign language of a particular country before you are able to fully make sense of what is being said.  It's really amazing how even sign language can have so much variety in different countries and cultures.

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I just wonder how many variations of gestures are those people required to memorize just to be able to say that they can fluently speak it 100%? I bet it can range from hundred thousands to millions. I guess the same goes for the Braille then, like it's not universal.

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I only recently found out it's unique to each country, I always saw logic in it being universal! Very interesting! I suppose it makes sense seeing as all countries're different, and have culture, lifestyles and traditions that're unique to them.

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There has been attempts to make a universal sign language like Esperanto.

International Sing Language is  the most common one, although it is most widely spread in Europe and America.  More common is the  Latin alphabet , the signs for the  letters are very similar to languages  using Latin letters , but  naturally you cannot sign anything other than letters, but  then you can sign out words in an other language you have learned.

Some signs are very common to similar cultures, or can be used in a way to communicate even if not using "specific language" in signs.

ut confusing for neighboring countries, as in speak  say Italian and Spanish , they have a lot of similar words and can communicate , or German and Dutch . But In Sign the differences can be very big as they are more culturally dependent.

Almost all languages have their on sign language. One of the reasons is that they often don't sing out all the words like we speak, but the meaning, idea, main action  in the sentence.

Example :

Are you driving the bus? Speaking . 

pointing at you, making the bus  sign + drive sign, and making a question with you face; rising eyebrows. Signing.

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I would say that there are some signs that are universal. Not all, but some. Definitely the alphabets would be different in different languages such some language don't have certain words, such as Vietnamese with the letter "J".

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  • 2 weeks later...

I would say that there are some signs that are universal. Not all, but some. Definitely the alphabets would be different in different languages such some language don't have certain words, such as Vietnamese with the letter "J".

I agree with xHysteria on this one, there are some signs that are universal but most of it does differ especially from country to country and basically community to community! Of course different languages as well as cultures play an important role as well.

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Like someone else here wrote, I think that it would be easier if all sign language was universal, but I guess it's not.  I'm only learning about this fact just right now today.  I didn't know that sign languages were different in different places.

To me, though, it would seem that using a sign could be universal.  Like don't almost all stop signs look the same across the country, or most of them?  Why can't the sign language sign for "stop" be the same thing universally?

On the one hand it seems like it would be so easy to have a universal sign language, but on the other hand one has to take into consideration different cultures.

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Great question and for some reason I am surprised by the answer. I always thought that sign language was universal. I guess that was a false belief because sign language has probably been around in different societies just like verbal language and they had to create something by which to communicate with deaf people.

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