Comparison of American
Sign Language Versus
Worldwide Sign Language
Dialects
Introduction
 Title: Comparison of
American Sign Language
Versus Worldwide Sign
Language Dialects
 Target Audience: Adults in
the age bracket of 25-55
 The goal of this
project is to provide
an understanding
regarding the nature
of deaf
communication in
various countries
worldwide with the
focus on America.
Myths and Facts About Sign
Languages
Myths
 Sign languages are
universal.
 People will understand
other countries’ sign
languages.
 All sign languages have
the same grammatical
structures and rules.
Facts
 Sign languages in each
country have their own
dialect.
 Sign language dialects of
each country will differ
from region to region.
 Sign languages will not
be completely
understood or clear to
foreigners who use sign
language.
Influences on Sign Languages
 The majority of sign languages in
different countries were influenced by
the French Sign Language system.
 Many countries had their own signing
system prior to the exposure of FSL.
 Many countries modified some of the FSL
and incorporated their sign language
and the FSL into a complex language.
ASL and Sign Languages of Other
Countries
ASL
 A complete and complex
visual-spatial, natural
language used by native
users.
 Has no grammatical
similarities to English.
 ASL is used and cherished by
the Deaf community.
 There are not many
documentations about ASL.
Other Countries’ SL
 A complete and complex
visual-spatial, natural
language used by native
users.
 Has no grammatical
similarities to spoken
languages of their own
country.
 Sign languages of each
country is used and cherished
by the Deaf community.
 There are not many
documents about sign
languages in other countries.
ASL and Sign Languages of
Other Countries
ASL
 It has its own grammatical
structures:





Syntax
Semantics
Pragmatics
Morphology
Phonology
 It contains gestures, nonmanual markers, classifiers,
fingerspelling, etc.
Other Countries’ SL
 Sign languages of each
country have their own
grammatical structures:





Syntax
Semantics
Pragmatics
Morphology
Phonology
 Each sign languages contain
gestures, non-manual
markers, classifiers,
fingerspelling, etc.
Differences Between ASL and Sign
Languages of Other Countries
 Signs used for expressing words and the
manual alphabet are different from ASL.
 Some signs that are acceptable in some
countries may be offensive in other countries.
 The structures and rules of the
languages will vary from country to
country.
Japanese Sign Language
 Fingerspelling in JSL was not introduced until
the early 20th century.
 Fingerspelling is influenced by Spain, France, and the
United States.
 Older folks don’t know fingerspelling and numerals.
 It is not standardized like ASL.
 JSL rely on mouthing the words for
clarification; whereas ASL uses initial letters
of the English words or fingerspelling for
distinguishment.
Canada
 The dialect is very
different from ASL in the
United States and has
regional differences in
Canada from east to west.
 Most signers from eastern
Canada use ASL, but with
some British Sign Language
vocabulary.
 Structurally and
grammatically distinct
from Quebec Sign
Language (LSQ).
Auslan
 Auslan recently was pulled from the
words Australian Sign Language, but the
language is not new.
 It is very complex in grammar and
lexicon.
 The language is not purely gestural.
 Some signs are iconic, but it is mostly
arbitrary; similar to ASL.
Mexican Sign Language
 LSM and ASL are complete different languages.
 Strongly influenced by Spanish vocabulary and
initialization.
 LSM uses more initialization for clarification
compared to ASL.
 It is not seen as a negative strategy, nor is it viewed as
“hearing” signs like that in ASL if a signer used initialized
signs borrowed from English words.
Summary of Different Sign
Languages
 Sign languages are not universal as many
people think.
 Each sign languages have their own
grammatical structures and rules.
 People will not be able to understand sign
languages of other countries no matter how
fluent they are in their own sign language
unless they learn that language.
 Each sign language dialect is as unique and
complex as spoken languages.
References
 Nakamura, Karen (2002) “About
Japanese Sign Language.” Website.
<http://www.deaflibrary.org/jsl.html>
 WA Deaf Society. 25 July 2002. The
Western Australian Deaf Society Inc. 30
October 2002
<http:www.wadeaf.org.au/index.shtml>
References continued
 American Sign Language: A Language of USA.
July 2002. Ethnologue: Languages of the
World, 14th Ed. Dec. 2001
<http://www.ethnologue.com/show_language.asp?_c
ode=ASE>
 Faurot, Karla, Dianne Dellinger, Andy Eatough,
and Steve Parkhurst. The Identity of Mexican
Sign as a Language. June 1999.
<http://www.sil.org/mexico/lenguajes-designos/G009i-Identity-MFS.pdf>
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Comparison of ASL and Other Sign Languages of Other …