Thursday, September 04, 2008
I can talk French!
I'm still researching hands and thinking about how to re-invent. I'm looking at research from graduate school on sign languages - I studied Japanese Sign Language and Finnish Sign Language among other things.
Did you know American Sign Language is closely related to French Sign Language? When signing, French Deaf signers would understand me better than British Deaf signers.
In 1816, a U.S. educator went to Europe seeking a teacher to help him to teach deaf children in the U.S. The teacher who consented to join him was a deaf teacher named Laurent Clerc from France. Clerc used French Sign Language to teach the U.S. students - however, the students used his signs and mixed them with some of their own and modified some. It became a unique language known today as American Sign Language. Approximately 2/3rds of ASL signs have French origins.
Fingerspelling or using a handshape to represent each letter of an alphabet is also different. British signers use a two handed system while in the U.S., we borrowed the French one handed system. (If you'd like to learn more or see where the photos came from, visit the Gallaudet Archives.)
If you were thinking the opposite, many people do. They think either sign languages are universal or they think signs are derived from the country's spoken language. Neither is true. Sign Languages are distinct languages all on their own.
Fingerspelling makes a good candidate to include in the hand beads. Something I've been rolling around in my head. Still researching but what do you think?