Talking about sign languages with Nic Starr


I had so much fun writing about sign languages for today’s Friend Friday on Nic Starr’s blog. In addition to American Sign Language (pictured above with the words “friend” and “Friday”), I talk about several languages from outside the US and where you can learn them. Is your country included? (And if you know additional learning resources, let me know in the comments!)

If you’re wondering about my fiction writing, I do talk a bit about writing with sign languages later in the post. The article also has a link to my books on Smashwords, where all of my stories with a sign language theme are on sale through tomorrow in celebration of E-book Week. Check it out!

Dale Lowry is my visitor this week, joining us with a really interesting post about sign languages, and the role sign language plays in their books. It’s a fascinating guest post. There’s also a discount code so make sure you take advantage! So over to Dale…

Thanks for having me on your blog today to talk about sign languages, Nic! This is one of my favorite topics. Heck, I even wrote a thesis on sign languages. And they keep popping up in my stories—in my recently released collection Falling Hard: Stories of Men in Love, and again in my erotic short story “What Marriage Is About,” which appears in the Sexy Little Pages anthology Silence is Golden. (Both are on discount at Smashwords through March 11 when you use the coupon code found on the books’ info pages in the Smashwords store.)

Before talking about how I include sign languages in my stories, I want to offer a little background in the form of common questions that people have about sign languages and deafness.

What is a sign language?
A sign language is a language that primarily uses the hands and visual cues to convey meaning. Like spoken languages, natural sign languages have evolved over time as they were used in everyday conversations by groups of people. They have words and grammar, and some have standardized writing systems.

Is sign language the same around the world?
No. Someone who knows American Sign Language will not understand British Sign Language (or French Sign Language or Australian Sign Language or Japanese Sign Language …) without studying, and vice versa. Ethnologue, an encyclopedic directory of the world’s languages, lists 142 sign languages around the world.

Who uses sign language?
Sign languages have tended to develop wherever there are groups of deaf people. But anyone who encounters a sign language on a regular basis is likely to pick up at least some of it up. At least one sign language developed among users who were mostly hearing (though it has also been used by the deaf): Plains Indian Sign Language of North America.

So sign languages are all about the hands, right?
Although people often think of signed languages as “languages of the hands,” other parts of the body play a role in forming words as well. In American Sign Language, for example, …

Read the rest of the article at Nic Starr’s blog: FRIEND FRIDAY: Dale Lowry talks about sign languages – Nic Starr

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