Written by Linda Alexander
Bookmark and Share

ASL, or American Sign Language, is a common language used in the U.S. and English-speaking Canada. It is the fourth most common language in the United States. It is a visual form of communication that deaf and hard of hearing people use. Families with deaf and hearing members also use sign language.

There is no universal sign language. Just like there are many spoken languages throughout the world, there are many unique sign languages. ASL, like other sign languages, uses a combination of handshapes, locations, and movements to convey information. It has its own subtleties and nuances, like any spoken language does.

ASL also has its own grammatical structure. It is not a direct translation of English and learning it is comparable to learning a foreign language. Gestures are only a part of the language. Body movements, facial expressions, and grammatical structure are other important components.

ASL: More Than Gestures

In American Sign Language, grammatical information is given in different ways, such as facial expressions or a tilt of the body. Information is not only conveyed through individual words, just as in English, voice inflections also convey information. When somebody translates ASL into English, he or she may also use a few sounds.

Bookmark and Share