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Chirogram from Chirologia, In Britain, manual alphabets were also in use for a number of purposes, such as secret communication, [8] public speaking, or communication by deaf people. Arthrological systems had been in use by hearing people for some time; [12] some have speculated that they can be traced to early Ogham manual alphabets. The earliest known printed pictures of consonants of the modern two-handed alphabet appeared in with Digiti Lingua Latin for Language [or Tongue] of the Finger , a pamphlet by an anonymous author who was himself unable to speak.

Nine of its letters can be traced to earlier alphabets, and 17 letters of the modern two-handed alphabet can be found among the two sets of 26 handshapes depicted. Charles de La Fin published a book in describing an alphabetic system where pointing to a body part represented the first letter of the part e. By , the British manual alphabet had found more or less its present form.

Now called Gallaudet University , it is still the only liberal arts university for deaf people in the world. Sign languages generally do not have any linguistic relation to the spoken languages of the lands in which they arise.

The correlation between sign and spoken languages is complex and varies depending on the country more than the spoken language. While recent studies claim that International Sign is a kind of a pidgin , they conclude that it is more complex than a typical pidgin and indeed is more like a full sign language.

Linguistics[ edit ] In linguistic terms, sign languages are as rich and complex as any spoken language, despite the common misconception that they are not "real languages". Professional linguists have studied many sign languages and found that they exhibit the fundamental properties that exist in all languages. While iconicity is more systematic and widespread in sign languages than in spoken ones, the difference is not categorical. They have complex grammars of their own and can be used to discuss any topic, from the simple and concrete to the lofty and abstract.

Sign languages, like spoken languages, organize elementary, meaningless units called phonemes into meaningful semantic units. These were once called cheremes from the Greek word for "hand" in the case of sign languages, by analogy to the phonemes from Greek for "voice" of spoken languages, but now also called phonemes, since the function is the same. This is often called duality of patterning.

As in spoken languages, these meaningless units are represented as combinations of features, although often also crude distinctions are made in terms of handshape or handform , orientation , location or place of articulation , movement , and non-manual expression. Common linguistic features of many sign languages are the occurrence of classifiers , a high degree of inflection by means of changes of movement, and a topic-comment syntax.

More than spoken languages, sign languages can convey meaning by simultaneous means, e. Though there is still much discussion on the topic of iconicity in sign languages, classifiers are generally considered to be highly iconic, as these complex constructions "function as predicates that may express any or all of the following: Across the field of sign language linguistics the same constructions are also referred with other terms.

Today, linguists study sign languages as true languages, part of the field of linguistics. Relationships with spoken languages[ edit ] Sign language relief sculpture on a stone wall: Instead, sign languages, like all natural languages, are developed by the people who use them, in this case, deaf people, who may have little or no knowledge of any spoken language. As a sign language develops, it sometimes borrows elements from spoken languages, just as all languages borrow from other languages that they are in contact with.

Sign languages vary in how and how much they borrow from spoken languages. In many sign languages, a manual alphabet fingerspelling may be used in signed communication to borrow a word from a spoken language, by spelling out the letters. This is most commonly used for proper names of people and places; it is also used in some languages for concepts for which no sign is available at that moment, particularly if the people involved are to some extent bilingual in the spoken language.

Fingerspelling can sometimes be a source of new signs, such as initialized signs, in which the handshape represents the first letter of a spoken word with the same meaning. On the whole, though, sign languages are independent of spoken languages and follow their own paths of development.

The grammars of sign languages do not usually resemble those of spoken languages used in the same geographical area; in fact, in terms of syntax, ASL shares more with spoken Japanese than it does with English. South Africa , which has 11 official spoken languages and a similar number of other widely used spoken languages, is a good example of this. It has only one sign language with two variants due to its history of having two major educational institutions for the deaf which have served different geographic areas of the country.

Spatial grammar and simultaneity[ edit ].


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