How many sign languages exist in the world?
Answer from Valerie Sutton:
I don't believe anyone really knows how many spoken or signed languages there are in the world. But I suspect there are as many signed languages in the world, as there are spoken languages in the world. Just like spoken languages, signed languages are unique to each region in the world.
Signed languages are as old as history. They are not new languages recently invented. Like spoken languages, they developed naturally. Deaf people needed to communicate with those around them. Certain gestures became commonly understood, and in time, as with spoken languages, a rich vocabulary and grammar structure developed. Like spoken languages, signed languages are living languages. They change as the people who use them change.
Of course, some signed languages are more "established" and "better researched" than others. American Sign Language is an example of an "established and well known signed language"...but there are many dialects of American Sign Language, just as there are many dialects of English....
And then in our global world, a few languages become dominent - like English, Spanish, American Sign Language...there are a few that are used more when people travel, on computers, and in publications such as ours. And SignWriting can write all signed languages....
Related Articles: Helping Bring Recognition To Sign Languages
...short summary of SignWriting's goals...
Encoding SignWriting in the Universal Character Set
...by Michael Everson, Dublin, Ireland, August 15, 1999...
International Organization for Standardization (ISO)
...application for language codes for Sign Languages...
Please feel free to write if you have questions. Valerie Sutton
Deaf Action Committee for SignWriting
Center For Sutton Movement Writing
an educational nonprofit organization
P.O. Box 517, La Jolla, CA, 92038-0517, USA