“Language”, a life-preserving form of communication. No matter it is spoken or signed, language is that route which knits us together as a social community. You can learn different types of spoken languages like Spanish, French, Welsh, etc., why not sign language? It will unlock a whole new window for you.
If you want to become wood-perfect in british sign language alphabets, you’ve bobbed up on the right place! Don’t leave that chair and stick with me to learn how to sign the alphabet in British Sign Language.
What is Sign Language?
Before anything else, let’s know what a sign language is.
Sign language is a way of interaction for deaf people in which they use a combination of manual articulations with non-manual elements to express their feelings. Sign language is a wholly developed natural language with distinct grammar and lexicon. Though there are some similarities among sign languages from different corners of the world, they are not universal.
The sign language that is commonly used in the United Kingdom is called British Sign Language (BSL). British Sign Language is a full-fledged independent sign language with its own grammatical structure and syntax. It is also not allied with spoken English.
History of British Sign Language (BSL)
As an unwritten language BSL doesn’t have any well-documented history. It is believed that BSL was formed in the 18th century. But it had become well accepted in the 19th century when deaf schools were started in Britain.
Since 1980, television started broadcasting BSL regularly on making signs visible to the whole nation. As a result of this, most signers know a sign that is recognised across the country despite their own regional signs.
After a massive campaign in 2003, BSL was finally recognised by the UK government as an official minority language. Now BSL is the preferred language of around 145,000 people and 20,000 children within the United Kingdom.
The Grammar of British Sign Language
Sign languages use the unique features of the visual medium, but may also exploit physical features. Mostly, spoken language is linear so that you can make or receive only one sound at a time. On the flip side, sign language is visual. You can use a simultaneous expression, although this is limited to articulatory and linguistically. Visual perception enables the processing of parallel information.
The sentences or clauses in a language have a specific structure. If you compare languages to each other, you will see that differences in structure emerge. For instance, in English, we have the Subject then Verb then Object:
I(S) baked(V) a cake(O)
In BSL, the concept is different. It starts a sentence with Time-frame then Topic then Action or a Comment.
Yesterday(time frame) cake (topic) baked (action/comment)
It is essential to have the time-frame in BSL. The signs in sign language do not change according to the past, present, or future. Whereas in English, we show the time-frame by using a variety of words (made, make, building, etc.).
Sign Language Vs Spoken Language
Sign languages develop within deaf communities. So they can be independent of the surrounding spoken language. Though English is the native language for the USA and UK, the American Sign Language (ASL) is pretty different from British Sign Language (BSL).
In some ways, sign languages are different from spoken ones because of the limitations and feasibility sustained by the visual-gestural modality. The salient differences are in the use of visual space and speed of the articulators. There is also variation in the need to get information and the effort of using large muscles for language transmission.
But there is a lot of fundamental connection between these two. Like the spoken ones, sign languages have syntactic, semantic, formational, and phonological levels of analysis. The aim of writing aims is to communicate whether it is spoken or signed. I will say that sign languages are distinct from spoken languages with a sundry of uniformities.
Boost you English by using the proper spelling, grammar, and punctuation
How to Sign the Alphabet in British Sign Language
Now it’s time for you to fetch a whole new experience. Without any exaggeration, let’s get to know how to sign the alphabets in British Sign Language one by one.
Do you notice the vowels? Yes, each of your fingers represents vowels! See closely: A (thumb), ‘E’ (index), ‘I’ (middle), ‘O’ (ring), ‘U’ (little). That’s wicked, I know right?
Things to Remember
Learning the alphabet is considered as ‘Level-1’ in British Sign Language. Before upgrading your level, a few fundamental things you have to keep in your mind always.
In BSL, most words have their own sign. But the alphabets are used to spell out names, acronyms, and the words that don’t have a distinct sign. You can also fingerspell the words with the alphabets if you are unsure about their signs. Moreover, alphabets will be immensely helpful for you to understand BSL further.
The most convenient part of British Sign Language is there is no capital or small letters! You can emphasize on the word without paying attention whether it has capital letters or not. The sign for letters such as D and Q picture capital letters. Other alphabets like R, outline lowercase letters. But each of them is used for both capital letters and lowercase letters.
Dominant hand means the hand you write with. Right or left doesn’t matter, the thing that matters in BSL is the consistency. Consider the pen and paper method to understand better. You will point with your dominant hand as if it is the pen whereas the other hand will be the paper. For instance, if you are a righty, your dominant hand will be the right hand.
BSL is split into different levels and learning the alphabet is the basic step of British Sign Language. Learn bits by bits to have greater consistency and to grasp the language.
Once you learn a sign, write down the letter or word. It will help you to know what you have covered and what you have to work on. Learning sign language will take time, but you want to be a pro in BSL, don’t ya?
The gesture is very important in sign language. When you communicate with people, always sign in front of your chest. Also, keep the pace of your fingerspelling steady and slow, so that the person can understand you easily. Conjointly, try to mouth the whole word instead of mouthing the individual letters.
Read people’s emotions and opinions before they even say a word, and to build your emotional intelligence.
The purpose of this blog was to assist you on your journey towards learning British sign language alphabets. I hope now you know how to sign the alphabets in British Sign Language. I also try to cover the nits and bits of BSL which may help you to get acquainted with British sign language alphabets in the long run.
I believe you have found the blog neat and nifty. Thanks a bunch for staying with me this long. A big clap for you that you have taken a step forward to learn this unique method of communication.
Good luck and take care!