Sign Language Linguistics

Language is traditionally defined as a method by which humans’ communication with one another. While verbal communication is the most common type of language currently used by individuals living around the world, facial expressions, hand gestures, and body language can substantially contribute to overall interaction and communication. In most cases, it is these non-verbal forms of communication used by individuals who are deaf or hard-of-hearing, though some individuals may retain the ability to speak verbally. Specifically, most deaf individuals rely on the use of American Sign Language, or ASL, to interact with other members of society. Individuals who are interested in learning more about American Sign Language and the sign language alphabet should consult with experts in the field. A sign language dictionary can also be helpful for people who want to learn more about ASL.

What is American Sign Language?

Before one can understand the linguistics of sign language, it is important to understand a bit more about the topic in general. Specifically, sign language is a language in which speakers rely on the use of hand gestures, facial expressions, and body positions to portray concepts, thoughts, and meaning. While there are a number of different types of sign language currently in existence, American sign language is commonly favored by most deaf people in the United States. Individuals who are interested in how to learn sign language may be able to do so through community education courses or by working with professionals in the field of ASL. Internet articles, videos, and even textbooks may also provide some guidance for individuals who are interested in how to learn sign language.

Interaction between ASL and Oral Language

While there is typically no sound associated with the use of ASL, this does not mean that there is no interaction between this type of communication and oral language. In fact, many deaf people rely on the use of signed letters to spell words that do not exist in traditional forms of ASL. To ensure fluency in ASL, many deaf individuals depend on the use of the sign language alphabet. Those who want to know how to learn sign language alphabet may be able to master some letters through the use of online resources and a sign language dictionary.

ASL and Non-Manual Sign

Individuals who rely on ASL often depend heavily on the use of non-manual signing to get their point across. Non-manual signs include raised eyebrows, crossed arms, eye contact, and other gestures to portray a thought or image. While many letters and words in ASL can be clearly identified in a sign language dictionary, these non-manual signs often cannot. Instead, these non-manual signs may only be interpreted through experience and understanding of the total concept.

Individuals who are interested in learning more about sign language and the sign language alphabet should visit the following web pages: