April 08, 2004

More on Sign Languages

Jan Adriaenssens has sent me an interesting follow-up to my post yesterday on ASL vs. English. First, he says that another method for transcribing ASL, SignWriting, is becoming increasingly popular.

Second, he reports on a project in Belgium/Flanders, and on several neighboring sign languages in western Europe:

We're working on a dictionary of the Flemish Sign Language, using SignWriting. It can be found here or, in the near future, here. This dictionary has the interesting feature that one can search by signs (`zoeken op gebaar'). For testing purposes, we have also posted an ASL dictionary in the same format. You can find it: here. The site hasn't been translated yet, so you'll have to know some basic Dutch.

The Flemish Sign Language (Vlaamse Gebarentaal) is quite different from the sign language in the Netherlands (Dutch Sign Language, Nederlandse Gebarentaal). The Flemish Sign Language is closer to the sign language used in the southern part of Belgium (Belgian-French Sign Language, Langue des Signes de Belgique Francophone), where the spoken language is French. This gives additional proof for your point that spoken languages and sign languages are quite unrelated.

The Flemish Sign Language, the Dutch Sign Language and the Belgian-French Sign Language all have most of their roots in the French Sign Language, just as the American Sign Language does. But ASL also has had a very interesting influence from the Martha's Vineyard Sign Language (MVSL).

Posted by Sally Thomason at April 8, 2004 08:19 PM