The history of language houses many fascinating subtopics that can paint a wildly intriguing picture of how communication has evolved and been promoted. In the field of linguistics, sign language is arguably one of the most complex and interesting forms of communication. Its history is multi-layered and incorporates qualities of traditional verbal communication as well as many other sensory skills. Given that language was developed through sounds, the ability to express ones thoughts, beliefs and emotions through hand and facial movements seems, at first, in contrast with the definitive qualities of language. Throughout history, however, sign language has been used by groups of deaf people as their primary and most direct form of articulation of thoughts in public spaces. Sign language evolved, most primarily, around the school of deaf children and more recently has widened to include active non-deaf or hearing individuals, as well. Researchers and teachers who have studied this field out of interest not because of an inability to hear have raised an interesting debate and further expansion over the development of sign language within the hearing community. Still and unfortunately, the most significant area of research on sign language that has remained largely untapped is the historical component of linguistic research. A broad overview and a detailed study of the history of sign language can help to shed light on many of its components such as its origin, its development, its expansion, popularity and its chronology. Questions posed will include how has sign language developed throughout history? What has been the rate of development for sign language, with reference to rapidity and popularity? What is the current status of sign language in an oral language community? Does sign language have a place for hearing people, and not just for the deaf? The optimal way to respond to these queries will be to focus on the history of non-verbal language. This research will then note how different localities have adopted signs into their language, what cultural differences and typological variances can be found and to address how sign language will adapt to respond to the needs of those who assign it as their primary form of communication.
[...] Grammar, gesture, and meaning in American Sign Language. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.) Mann, W., Marshal, C.R., Mason, K., & Morgan, G. (2010). The acquisition of sign language: the impact of phonetic complexity on phonology. Language Learning and Development 60-86. Meier, R. P., Schick, B., Marschark, M. & Spencer, P. (2005). The forms of early signs: Explaining signing children's articulatory development. Advances in the sign-language development of deaf and hard-of-hearing children, 202-230. Sandler, Wendy, Meir, Irit, Padden, Carol, Aronoff, Mark and Sabloff, Jeremy, [...]
[...] This is the component that helps set sign language apart as an accessory to verbal language, while also existing as a language in and of itself. Arguably, this is the quality that establishes sign language as more than a communication tool and more than merely a language, as sign language is a fully comprehensive medium for conveying meaning and thought. Equally interesting is the potential for sign language to transcend regional languages. That is to say that with the advent of full word signs, in replacement of words spelled out letter by letter, sign language could grow to be an international language as it is not dependent upon comprehension of individual words but rather of full concepts and full words. [...]
[...] Subsequently, drawings outlining what movements to use when attempting to speak with a deaf person are the earliest documentation that we have for the existence of sign language in modern cultures; although, it has surely existed longer but may not have been documented. These drawings date to Spain in 1620. The earliest record of an official school dedicated to students who could not hear is the public school for deaf children, established in Paris in 1755. Its lessons were taken from the common motions observed in everyday life between deaf people attempting to speak with one another. [...]
[...] It is not surprising, then, that sign language has found such popularity even outside of the deaf community. Works Cited Brentari, D., Goldstein, L., Whalen, D. & Best, C. (2006). Effects of language modality on word segmentation: An experimental study of phonological factors in a sign language. Papers in laboratory phonology VIII, 155-164. Casey, S. (2010). Making contact through signed languages. Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education Erting, Carol, J. (1985). “Cultural Conflict in a School for Deaf Children.” Anthropology & Education Quarterly, vol 225-243. [...]
[...] Today, sign language for American English remains different from sign language of other English's; signers will note a specific tonal difference between American and British sign language, much as the accent difference between these two languages when spoken (Stewart and Akamatsu 1988, 237). As sign language has proven itself to be a distinct language, not an extension of other languages, it has also taken on additional benefits. Entire professions have been created to aid those who cannot hear, and to help further the integration of sign language into hearing communities. [...]
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