• Question: Is sign language the same in different languages?

    Asked by robynw2005 to Catriona, Damien, Hannah, James, Jason, Nayeli, Sarah, Sophie, Zaf on 24 Jan 2018.
    • Photo: Hannah Little

      Hannah Little answered on 24 Jan 2018:

      Sign language isn’t a signed version of spoken languages, but different countries have different sign languages. For example, America has ASL (American Sign Language) and Britain has BSL (British Sign Language), these are completely different languages and it’s very difficult for ASL and BSL signers to understand each other.

    • Photo: Damien Hall

      Damien Hall answered on 24 Jan 2018:

      I can’t add anything to what Hannah said!

    • Photo: Catriona Silvey

      Catriona Silvey answered on 24 Jan 2018:

      What Hannah said! Even the fingerspelling systems (which you might expect to be the same in ASL and BSL, since signers of both mostly use fingerspelling to spell out unfamiliar words/names in English) is completely different – ASL fingerspelling uses one hand and BSL fingerspelling uses two, and they have very different ways of signing each letter.

    • Photo: Jason Nurse

      Jason Nurse answered on 25 Jan 2018:

      Definitely back up Hannah’s answer!

    • Photo: Nayeli Gonzalez-Gomez

      Nayeli Gonzalez-Gomez answered on 25 Jan 2018:

      Hannah’s is absolutely right. Here is a website where you can find some interesting information about sign language:


    • Photo: Sarah Knight

      Sarah Knight answered on 25 Jan 2018:

      I totally agree with everything that’s been said! I also find it interesting that, just like spoken language, sign language relies on many different things, including facial expression and breathing! I went on a basic British Sign Language course, and I felt very self-conscious trying to match facial expressions with signs, but unless you do this you aren’t communicating the full message — just like typing a message isn’t the same as talking in person!