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Sign language - Essay Example

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Sign language is the natural language of the deaf community. As a non-verbal, visual language, sign is clearly different in form from that of spoken languages; however the same purpose is achieved by its use - communication. Although sign language is used in almost every nation of the world, it is not a universal language…
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Sign language
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Download file to see previous pages Sometimes, sign is confused with the practice of pantomime, but sign language does not include its environment. This paper aims to review sign language in general. Firstly, the nature of signs will be described. Secondly, the similarities and differences between sign and spoken language will be presented. Finally, a conclusion shall synthesize the main points of the paper.
Sign takes place in 3-D space also known as "signing space," which is usually close to the trunk of the body and the head. Signs can be wither one or two-handed. When only one-handed a dominant hand performs the sign, and in two-handed signing, the non-dominant hand comes into play.
It has only lately been realized that the non-manual forms of sign are able to effectively express the feelings of the signer (Weaver and Pentland 1). This is similar to verbal speaker's ability to transmit meaning through non-verbal means. However, for signers, non-manual channels are also critical to communicate the grammar of the language. Unfortunately, not much is known as yet about non-manual forms as compared to manual forms, however current research interests into this topic may change this.
It is not unusual for a child to learn sign from...
Studies have implicated many equivalent learning processes between sign and spoken language learning. Primarily for sign, inflection is of more importance than word positioning. Using a visual-gestic mode for the arrangement of inflexion, sign is very similar to Navajo or Latin language. The hand configuration used in signs means that each sign has numerous parts consisting of; the configuration, place of articulation, orientation, path of movement and non-sign components that include facial expressions (Braem 1). Some sign languages have up to 18-19 handshapes, 24 movements and 12 locations. Visual and kinetic aspects of sign make it difficult or can make it impossible for a person from learning the language from a book, such as its movement aspects. As such, a teacher is required who is more proficient in the language. Hence, a model is required to be observed by the learner, and as it is some of the best teachers are those who originated this language, that is the "deaf and dumb" (Braem 4).
There are many common linguistical features to sign languages; these include the extensive use of classifiers, a high level of use of inflection and a topic-comment syntax. Mostly, the linguistical characteristics of sign language are its ability to produce meaning in different areas of the visual field simultaneously. That is, the receiver of the communication may be able to read the meaning of the signs that the hands make, whilst reading the facial expression and the positioning of the body. This is in stark contrast to oral languages, wherein sounds that make up words tend to spoken sequentially, although the use of tone takes exception to this.
The body and facial expressions are essential to communication in sign. The ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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