sign language noun
: a system of hand movements used for communication especially by people who are deaf
: a formal language employing a system of hand gestures for communication (as by the deaf)
: an unsystematic method of communicating chiefly by manual gestures used by people speaking different languages
First Known Use of SIGN LANGUAGE
Rhymes with SIGN LANGUAGE
sign language noun (Medical Dictionary)
: a formal language employing a system of hand gestures for communication (as by the deaf)—compare finger spelling
sign language noun (Concise Encyclopedia)
Any means of communication through bodily movements, especially of the hands and arms, rather than through speech. It has long been used by speakers of mutually unintelligible languagesfor example, various Plains Indian tribes in 19th-century North America communicated via a sign languageand is widely used for communication by the deaf. Charles-Michel, abbé de l'Épée (1712–89), developed the first sign language for the deaf in the mid-18th century; his system developed into French Sign Language (FSL), still used in France. Transported to the U.S. in 1816 by Thomas Gallaudet (1787–1851), it evolved into American Sign Language (ASL, or Ameslan), now used by more than half a million people. These and other national sign languages generally express concepts rather than elements of words and thus have more in common with each other than with their countries' spoken languages.
The alphabet and the numbers 0–10 in Amer. Sign Language.—© Merriam-Webster Inc.
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