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International Sign Language?

Why is there no sign language that has been popularized around the world? I know there is an "international sign" language, but fron what I've read, this is only used for special events that are maintained by the international deaf congress. I personally am not deaf, and I'm certainly not saying that it wouldn't be possible to learn two different sign languages from start to finish, but my dillemma is that I'd like to be able to use ASL and French Sign Language (FSL?). I don't know anything about either of them, so I feel like it would be kind of tedious to learn two languages for countries of which I already know the language and visit quite often.

If anything, does anyone know if ASL is kind of like English and can be understood by most signers? Are most sign languages fairly similar in movement and words? Thanks :)

June 12, 2017


  • 2097

Well, why did you learn 2 languages to communicate with people residing in 2 different countries? One language should do, no? Welcome to the world after Babel! Most likely, you would have to learn 2 more (ASL and FSL), which are quite different from the spoken languages to communicate with deaf people of those countries. Memrise has several sign language courses but you would have to check whether ISL/IS/Gestuno is among them... BTW, what good would ISL do to you if your French 'audience/counterparts' would not 'speak/know' it? I am sure that you can find several ASL courses and at least one BSL. I understand that the two are quite different. For a brief history/development of the SL, see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sign_language


Just to clarify, I wasn't asking about learning the international sign language, but about why there hasn't been one made that is actually internationally used. For people that haven't been deaf their whole lives and haven't had any experience with sign languages, I feel that learning two of them due to being highly active in two different countries that speak different languages can seem very daunting, thus why the creation of an international sign language would be beneficial to deaf people and hearing people alike.


And why hasn't there been an international vocal language that is actually internationally used? (I mean Esperanto sorta tries but let's not go into that.) Because languages created for that specific purpose don't tend to catch on. In general, people learn the languages close to them rather than that (exceptions exist and this may change due to globalization but still). A lingua franca sign langauge would have to be formed organically, most likely. The only reason spoken English is any sort of lingua franca now (for a long time it wasn't!) is that English speakers conquered most of the world and where influential in technological advancements. And even then it was a bit of a gamble.

Btw, if one were to learn both ASL and FSL, they would be in luck. Those two are significantly closer to each other than English and French. As far as I know, ASL was born from FSL.


You are correct about ASL and FSL, they are closely related to each other because a French man came to America and taught sign language.

  • 2097

I think that you missed the meanings of my rhetorical questions! It looks like SeptimusBones and the other folks clarified/spelled out the various points that I referred/alluded to... Please check the reference that I provided and hopefully you will find answers to your original questions!


ASL is not like English at least not grammatically, it has different grammar than English. However from what my professors have told me, ASL tends to be used as a lingua franca at international Deaf events. Most sign languages are very different from each other.

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