Is Sign Language Universal?

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  1. Rafini profile image88
    Rafiniposted 7 years ago

    Say a deaf person from Mexico and a deaf person from Russia meet at JFK International Airport, but neither can read or write in the other language - would they be able to communicate using Sign Language?

    1. Maddie Ruud profile image76
      Maddie Ruudposted 7 years agoin reply to this

      Absolutely not.  There are hundreds of different sign languages being used in different parts of the world today.  Some are officially recognized, and some are not.  While they are not dependent on the oral languages around them, they do differ from place to place, community to community, and even case to case.  For example, I have a cousin with Downs, and when he was a child we used sign language with him, a mix of ASL and signs we organically invented with him as we went along.

      1. Rafini profile image88
        Rafiniposted 7 years agoin reply to this

        oh, that's too bad.  It sounded like a good idea. smile

        What's ASL?  (I'm thinking A-something as a Second Language)  I think that's interesting - you invented signs to use with your cousin.  Does he still use sign language?

        1. Maddie Ruud profile image76
          Maddie Ruudposted 7 years agoin reply to this

          ASL = American Sign Language, which is what is standard in the United States and English-speaking Canada (which is where he lives).  My cousin was slow to get his words because of his Downs Syndrome, so the family used signs so that he could still communicate.  The signs were phased out as he learned to speak.

  2. frogdropping profile image85
    frogdroppingposted 7 years ago

    Ooooo interesting question. I know when I was in Portugal that the users of sign language used the same basic structure to communicate. I'm thinking it is universal - it's the individual's language that isn't, so that's where the problem lies?

    1. Rafini profile image88
      Rafiniposted 7 years agoin reply to this

      Would it be a problem, then?  Say, the person from Russia wanted to buy the person from Mexico a coffee, would they each understand the others use of sign language to communicate the thought?  I'm thinking yes....

    2. vox vocis profile image79
      vox vocisposted 7 years agoin reply to this

      There are more than a 100 sign languages in the world...and there are differences even between BSL (British sign language) and ASL (American sign language) - not to mention others!

  3. frogdropping profile image85
    frogdroppingposted 7 years ago

    That clears that up then Maddie. See when I saw them using it in Portugal and asked about it - I was told they use the same signs for the alphabet as we do, the difference being they don't use the K, and they have signs for the ç, ã, û, é, è, á, and so on.

    Confusing. More than I thought. Always wanted to learn it too.

    1. Rafini profile image88
      Rafiniposted 7 years agoin reply to this

      me too - thought it might work as a foreign language credit, but I guess not.


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