Sign Language, or technically,”American Sign Langauge”, or “ASL”, is a universally-used language all its own. It is most commonly thought to be used as an effective way to communicate with deaf people. While that is probably its primary use and purpose, think about the other ways that Sign Language is used to communicate in everyday life. Scuba divers, for example, can use their fingers or hands to sign back and forth in order to communicate when they are underwater and cannot speak to each other.

Another example is firefighters. They can sign and relay important information to one another without speaking and using up their precious oxygen. Any time, in any situation where a person cannot speak, sign language is the next best way to effectively communicate. It is considered to be the fourth most popular language used in the United States.

The roots of sign language extend clear back to the year of 1620 when Juan Pablo de Bonet published the first manual alphabet. Sign Language has since evolved over the years into what it is known as today.

There are signs for some of the most common words and phrases, but names or specific words need to be spelled out individually by using the fingers and hands. Basically, the fingers are used to form the letters of the alphabet. This is also known as “fingerspelling.” The letter “C”, for example, is signed by holding the fingers together and up, and then forming the “C” shape by bending the fingers down and holding the thumb out.

The letter “A” is signed by holding the hand up and folding the fingers down to the palm. The letter “B” is formed by holding the hand up and sticking the fingers straight up. The thumb is crossed over onto the palm. You have just signed, “C-A-B.” This word can be used in the sentence, “I need a cab.”

Some common signs are for communicating with others and showing them emotions such as happiness or sadness. Other commonly used words are please, thank you, help, and love. Happiness is shown by placing both of your hands out in front of you, palms toward yourself. Now, circle your hands around one another a few times. Sadness is shown by placing both of your hands in front of your face. Bring your hands up and down over your entire face a few times. (This simulates tears falling.)

The word “please” is shown by placing your right hand over your chest and moving it in circles. Thank you are signed by touching your lips with the fingertips of one or both of your hands. You can communicate without speaking that you need help by closing your right hand. Stretch out your left hand and place your right fist in your left palm. Now, bring your hands up. And, finally, love is signed by simply crossing both of your hands over your chest.

If you would like to learn more about Sign Language and learn the entire manual alphabet, you can check out some books or videos at your local library or bookstore.

You will need to practice the signs over and over again until you learn how to form each letter as well as what form corresponds with each letter. You can also search the Internet for various sources of Sign Language information.

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