https://www.duolingo.com/RabbitsRabbits

The other Irish Language

I've been reading about ISL and I thought people here would be likely to be interested in it. Anyone here speak it?

Like Irish, it's a language of Ireland, used in Ireland, and in a different language family from the sign language used in England. In fact, it is closer to Japanese Sign Language or American Sign Language than it is to British Sign Language.

People sometimes want to know if it's like Gaeilge or English.. well it's like neither, it's its own thing. It's not just a code that allows you to communicate in English or Irish, but a separate language.

It's spoken by about 5,000 deaf people and 45,000 hearing people.

I think the alphabet at least should be taught in schools. I think it doesn't occur to people that you can have a full language without sound, I think kids would find it a lot of fun and would be very interested in it. We should be proud of it. Also, think how useful it would be to be able to talk to someone on the other side of a crowded room or noisy place. Ideally, some day in the future I'd very much like to be able to say "what you just did was illegal and could have killed me" to motorists. And of course, there are thousands of people who would feel less isolated from the rest of Ireland if everyone had at least a rudimentary understanding of ISL.

Another question you probably want to know is if you can speak ASL (which has way more resources) in Ireland.... not really... It's kind of like Portuguese vs Italian I think. If both people are fluent they can make themselves understood with considerable difficulty.

I am new to all this and I could be wrong about any of it, very happy to be corrected :)

A friend of mine who speaks it was telling me she knew a girl who knew fewer than 10 people she could communicate with, including family members. Can you imagine? She included in this list people who just knew the alphabet.

I made a memrise course so I could learn the alphabet:

https://www.memrise.com/course/1539697/irish-sign-language-alphabet/

I'm finding I can learn it faster than I learned the Russian or Korean alphabets.

Sites to learn words and phrases:

http://sharingthejourney.ie/mobile/ ( I think this only works with phones, there's also an app but you need a lot of space on your phone )

http://www.learnirishsignlanguage.ie/

1 year ago

11 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/Gerardd88
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Thanks for your post. I would have already learned some sign language long ago, but I've always heard they all very different from each other. If I learned Polish Sign Language, it would probably be of no use after I leave the country. Similarily, ASL seems to be the most popular option (and with the most resources to learn it) but, from what I've heard, I wouldn't be able to use it if I met a deaf person in Poland. It's quite frustrating because sign languages seem to be a very fascinating field.

I wonder why there can't be some kind of a lingua franca among sign speakers. After all, those language are all distinct (like you said ISL doesn't have much to do with actual Irish) and most speaker have to learn it from scratch anyway. Why not agree to learn the ASL for example? Maybe along with the country's sign language? I'm sure it would make the situation of deaf people easier, increasing the general literacy in sign languages among hearing people. It would also make it easier to communicate for deaf people from different countries. How do they do it now?

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/bemk92
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I imagine that speakers of different sign languages use the same trick as when they try to communicate with spoken language speakers. They either use a translator, or they find some way with hands, feet and maybe a written form of a lingua franca.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/RabbitsRabbits

I know, how handy would that be? :D But it's for the same reason we can't work out a lingua franca among other languages... The problem is it is people's first language, so it changes and evolves. In the beginning ASL and ISL would have been the same, just as Spanish and Portuguese were the same in the beginning. But ASL came into contact with other sign languages (Marta's Vinyard had their own isolate sign language) and also it morphed naturally, and ISL morphed naturally and also came into contact with British sign language a bit. Languages change until they are no longer mutually intelligible, it's what they do. Tower of babel and all that ;)

There is a sign language equivalent to Esperanto, used for deaf conferences, but apparently only people who go to those conferences often actually know it.

In fairness though, maybe if we all learned ASL then more people would be motivated to learn it, wherever they were from. Maybe everyone has to learn it first and then suggest making it a lingua franca.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Gerardd88
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I was suggesting maybe something like they do in, for example, Germany. There are quite a few local dialects and varieties, sometimes even uninteligible with each other, but there is also the standard language, that children learn at school and that is used for communication with people from outside the region. Like some kind of diaglossia.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/RabbitsRabbits

Yes, I understand what you are saying. It would be cool. I don't think the deaf community are any more likely to do this than the hearing community are.

Hoch German is still German. Academic English is still English, but ASL is not ISL. It will be more like trying to get everyone to learn Esperanto.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/bemk92
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Ideally, some day in the future I'd very much like to be able to say "what you just did was illegal and could have killed me" to motorists.

There's already a very well established gesture for that kind of situation, that's recognised internationally by deaf people and hearing people alike...

It seems interesting starting out with the alphabet, but I doubt it's very useful, given the fact that most sign languages simply have gestures for words or sometimes even entire frases. I guess it'd be cool to be able to sign my own name though, but then again, I do believe that there is a tradition of special signs being made for names, rather than going through the laborious process of spelling out the entire name.

Keep in mind though, that I only know all of this from TV shows in the Netherlands and I'm massively oversimplifying and please take my word with a grain of salt.

Something more reliable could maybe be found in the relevant Wikipedia page.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/RabbitsRabbits

If you don't know a word, and it's not there for you to point to (or it isn't a noun), you can spell it for the person and then they can teach you the sign. Very practical! Not all deaf people can lip read, I think you need to have or have had some hearing to learn it. (Don't know this for sure)

I don't know about in other countries but I know in Ireland you spell your name until someone makes up a sign for your name, and you aren't supposed to make up your own name.

ISL wouldn't work in the Netherlands yours is called NGT, I read just now :D

I am very familiar with that gesture you speak of :D It is a bit too broad though, I specifically want them to know what they did was dangerous, and not just think that I am an angry person who thinks she always has the right of way.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/SatharnPHL
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There is some discussion of Irish Sign Language in the exercise for "Sign Language" in Irish - "Teanga chomharthaíochta" https://www.duolingo.com/comment/12332086

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/RabbitsRabbits

That's cool, thanks! :) A whole 8 people have signed up for the alphabet course :D I'd say some people just wanted to have a look, that's usual, but some people are learning it. It's brilliant. You never know when it will come in handy, and loads of the other signs involve the letters. E.g. the position your hand is in when you sign please is the letter P.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/I2cGAc67
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Appreciate your post. From some initial coursework in ASL, I found sign language to be very meditative. Engaging in it did something to the brain, mind, and consciousness- something very good, and clarifying, and calming. Like, yes, of course I need this, and it feels so good and right to do this. I think that communicating with our hands and gestures is something we have a need to do, and is so healthy for us. I think it is a shame, and detrimental to our human development, that it is not generally taught and engaged in by everyone.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/RabbitsRabbits

I was reading the senate notes on getting it made an official language in Ireland (we are one of the only countries that doesn't grant its own sign language official status) and I learned there are actually 92,000 deaf or hearing impaired people living in Ireland. Now most of them don't speak ISL, but if it were official, and if more people spoke a bit of it, wouldn't it be worthwhile for them to learn it and that's 92,000 people who could potentially have conversations and interactions with strangers that would otherwise have been impossible or difficult.

Personally I think deafness is one of those things that wouldn't be any kind of a problem if society wasn't set up in such a way as to artificially make it a problem.

1 year ago
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