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Is all Sign Languages interpreting the same?
Home Reference & Education Language
By: Charlene Lacandazo Email Article
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People often have the same misconception about the disability of a person; usually, people believe that a disability is seen as a characteristic, rather than a situation. Hence, sometimes people misunderstand the situation and consequences of people with disabilities.

Nowadays, many countries have established and supported services that would bridge the gap of communication between disabled people and their outside world. Sign language interpreting services, for example, helps deaf and mute people to direct their own lives, to be independent and self sufficient.

Sign language interpreting services provide access and equality among people in the community. The main thing that these services need to secure is the accurateness and effectiveness in rendering a sign language interpretation.

But, are all sign languages the same? It is often assumed that there is only one sign language and that this is universal or international. However, this is just a common misconception of people. Linguists has always been pointing out that every languages has different sign language interpretation.

One example is the difference between ASL (American Sign Language) and BSL (British Sign Language). Even though the USA and the UK share a common language spoken language, their sign language features and techniques are very different from each other. However, American Sign Language has similarities to French Sign Language, and this is because French Sign Language was introduced in the USA by the Frenchman Laurent Clerc, and this created a major impact on American Sign Language. Conversely (and rather curiously), Belgium has one single sign language, although there are two spoken language communities, the French and the Flemish speaking people.

Although some people believe that sign languages are all the same and universal, it should be noted by people, including interpreters that every sign language interpretation has its own traits and characteristics; and thus every single is unique and different.

In addition, there may be universals in signed languages, which help disabled people understand each other far more quickly than people who are using spoken languages in communication, however, it needs a massive general structure and knowledge in order to establish common and universal sign language structures.

One issue that means that sign languages are not a universal medium for communication is that some linguists believe that signing can definitely express everyday chat and conversation, but when it comes to the serious process of signing an accurate reposting using specific terminology, sign languages are unreliable.

The common idea about sign languages interpretation is that the structures and grammar of every sign language are limited. Sign language interpreting is arguably more complex than any other ways of rendering a message and information to people in the deaf and mute community.

Charlene Lacandazo works for Rosetta Translation, a major provider of interpreting services in Shanghai, as well as British Sign Language Interpreting (BSL).

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