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?


rosebud101 said...

Cindy, that sounds like a really great idea! I think it has a lot of possibilities! It will be so interesting to see what you do with this. I'll be watching!

angelinabeadalina said...

The different origins are interesting. I can see a necklace spelling a small word with hands making the sign for each letter :) Whatever you end up doing, though, it will have something extra mixed into it, because the subject is close to your heart.

Deb said...

I have just learned something new! I honestly didn't realize that Sign Language amongst English speaking countries wasn't 'universal', although it does make sense when one stops to think about it of course.

I think beads involving the hands & any aspects of this would be fabulous! I'm eager to see where you take this :o)

LLYYNN - Lynn Davis said...

I love the imagery of hands anyway, and the idea of them spelling out a special word is a fantastic idea! Je parle francais - I speak french, but not with my hands! so this is facinating.

Amanda said...

I'm right there with Deb; for some reason, I was under the impression that ASL was universal... which is a completely stupid thing of me to think, because I know ASL stands for American Sign Language. AMERICAN.

Hel-lo, Amanda.

I suppose I was thinking that sign language was universal... I could have sworn that I'd read/heard that somewhere. But I could also be confused. Music is supposed to be universal. ASL evidently isn't!

I love learning something new. (:

Angelina suggested the same thing I was imagining - having hands with different letters. Specifically, I was just thinking about L-O-V-E, even though "I love you" has its own symbol, doesn't it?
(Have I been taught wrong? It's possible - this is your realm of experience, not mine!)

I could also see the individual letter idea being overly tedious in the studio, though... granted, creating anything out of glass is probably never -easy-! The thought of crafting a hand symbol that small (charm-sized, I'm thinking) absolutely blows my mind.