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November 25, 2012

What's your sign (language)?

I love words. Words on paper, words spoken, performance art involving words and even...

....nonsense words - like scat singing (that's a form of jazz singing, just in case you forgot).

But then, in a category all by itself, stands sign language.

There a few main schools of thought regarding sign language, but the overall view is bridging the gap between hearing and non-hearing people.

You may have noticed that many major public speaking events feature a sign language translator. To put it mildly, this takes a special kind of person.

Imagine communicating fully, using words, facial expressions, body movements and hand gestures in place of words only.

But if you like physical communicating and are willing to learn a nearly universal language (and yes, many universities consider sign language as a foreign language) sign language may be for you.

Here's a profile of a prominent signer - http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2012/11/why-great-sign-language-interpreters-are-so-animated/264459/#.

Sign language is a wonderful supplement to any language learning. It will give you a fuller range of expressions and approaches to communicating to speakers or students of almost any language.

I confess to being an unrepentant word nerd, and I love the many possibilities and contradictions in a language as flexible and fluid as English - especially the always-unpredictable American version.

Among many new parent that I know, sign language is a popular (and some say more direct) way to communicate with pre-verbal children. Take a look here for some guidelines for signing with babies and maybe pick up a few words and expressions yourself - http://www.babysignlanguage.com/.

Send us any words or phrases that make you crazy and be sure to let us know what it is about English and language learning that you find confounding, infuriating or endlessly intriguing.

Listen, read and speak. Make your new language your own.

My best to you as you make your way through this intriguing, constantly shifting linguistic landscape.


Posted by mmorf at November 25, 2012 10:04 PM


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