The Digital Shutterbug (aryx) wrote,
The Digital Shutterbug

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And on the topic of languages from my last entries...

I want to talk a bit about sign-language.
A universal sign-language.

In spoken language, we have a sound, or a series of sounds that represent something. For example, book, in English, libro in Spanish, and Buch in German. People speaking those languages, unless they know the language, can't understand the different sounds.
In sign-language, there is a motion; a physical representation of a word for an object, actually, a physical representation for the object itself.
For those of you who have had any experience with sign language, you may know that ASL (American Sign Language) does not necessarily follow the same 'language rules' that spoken English does. That is, word order and other details aren't the same.
English is, in fact, a backwards language. For example, we would say 'red car' where just about every other language says 'car red.' We view other languages as backwards, where, in truth, our word order tends to be backwards. We don't see it that way because we grew up (those of us with English as our native language) saying it that way, and that's the way it's supposed to be.
The same is pretty much true for sign language. Word order does not follow some of the same rules. So, in essence, someone signing may say something 'backwards', just like 'car red' is viewed (heard) as backwards.
But, not all countries use the same signed representation of an object.
Why can't the same sign represent the same object, whether it's German, Spanish, French, Russian, or whatever? Pictographs do pretty much that. But not sign language.
I think that someone signing who grew up in the United States should be able to communicate flawlessly with someone who signs in Russian. Because it's not a matter of understanding different sounds. It's a matter of using the same symbol or sign to represent an object or an action.
This would make it far easier for translators to communicate, as well. Many words have different meanings according to culture and slang usage. Attempting to translate a word which is being used in such a fashion can be tricky. But if sign-language is also involved, more clarity in the meaning would be obvious from the start.
And if sign language was learned by more people than just those who are deaf, you wouldn't really have to learn other languages fluently in order to communicate your wishes or thoughts.

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