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Is Sign Language A Universal Language? - Platinum Hearing Aids
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Is Sign Language A Universal Language?

As long as people have been conveying their thoughts and emotions through speaking, they have been communicating through sign language as well. The use of these visual gestures as a form of language was not invented by any one person, but rather has come about spontaneously over time by those who use it primarily to interact. Beginning in the early 1960’s in the United States and the Netherlands, research showed that every verified form of sign language in the world were complex, natural languages from the local to national level. While varying widely in each separate culture, sign languages do have universal features that make it possible for users from differing places to understand one another far easier than it would be for users of unrelated spoken languages.

All sign languages have a structure that can be segmented into smaller parts, just like any spoken language. These include sentences, signs, and minor units that make up the language as a whole. Working together, these lesser components help share information, convey emotion, tell stories, classify scientific study, and so much more. Additionally, different situations can require structured or informal discussion, just as someone using spoken language would address a child differently than their boss. Dialects are also prevalent, with new signs and symbols developing spontaneously all over the world depending upon the culture and environment of those using the language.

While not “universal,” sign languages in countries across the globe do present powerful examples of the influence that people have on the development of a language. These numerous social groups show how technological, industrial, economical, and cultural changes can create a uniquely structured language tailored to a specific people. In fact, it is a direct violation of UN and UNESCO treaties and declarations to forcibly purify or try to enforce a single, unified sign language. Control and development of any sign language is solely up to the people who use it, just as it should be.

Your local Allen Park and Southfield hearing aid audiologists are proud to interact regularly with the deaf and hearing-impaired community. If you or a loved one are struggling with hearing loss, tinnitus, or require any form of ear protection, please contact Platinum Hearing Aids directly.