Sign Languages are very different from other type of spoken languages in the world. There is no universal sign language, and in fact almost no two countries sign languages are the same due to the fact that deaf people can not hear the spoken language of any country. This means that these sing languages are made up independently because of their separate histories. For example although the United States and Britain both speak English the American Sign Language and the British Sign language are very different. They are so different that American Sign Languages alphabet uses only one hand, while the British Sign Language uses two.
Phonology is the systematic use of sound to encode meaning in any spoken human language. Just like for spoken languages sign language has a similar type of phonology using bits of movement to encode meaning in the language. For example the sign beer is the sign for the letter b swiped across ones mouth. When you break down the sign B is for beer the swiping across the mouth is like wiping away the foam after a big drink. Although you can spell words in sign language it is usually only used for clarification on what is trying to be said and not normally used in normal conversations.
There are two different types of sign language in the United States. The first is Signed English which is much more proper with the grammar. The other is American Sign Language in which spaces are used instead of larger sentences. For example in Signed English you would sing “I give to you”. In American Sign Language though you would say “I give you” taking out the “to”.
In many cultures around the world sign languages were banned because they were not considered proper languages. Many people expected the deaf to lip read what was being said which is a very difficult task. It is estimated that only forty percent of English can be lip read even by an expert. Now as different cultures are being accepted this has become less of an issue and the deaf community is becoming more accepted.
Although people are becoming more accepted to the idea of deaf people having their own culture there is still some pressure for them to conform because of recent technologies in the hearing aid field. There is a fairly recent device called a cochlear implant that can help many deaf people become hearing. When it was first invented many people though of it as a “cure” for deafness and many families pushed for their relatives to get one. This cause a big stir because deaf people do not think of their hearing as a handicap and that by getting the implant they would be conforming and letting the world try and change their own culture.
The deaf community as you can tell considers itself a unique culture. Their languages are very sophisticated and different between countries. Although some try to “cure” the deaf people in hopes that they will not have to sign. The deaf community fights to keep their identity and linguistic history.