Monday, October 04, 2010

Learn to Sign week

It's Learn to Sign week!  Organised by the BDA (British Deaf Association) there should be lots of stuff going on throughout the country aimed at encouraging people to learn to how to sign.  So, I think I shall be getting in on this and doing a series of posts about BSL (British Sign Language).

The week runs from 4th to the 10th October and you can find out more at the BDA page here.  Approximately 90,000 people have BSL as their first language.  It is a living language evolving as Deaf people use it and it not artifically created.  It is Deaf people's own language and is not devised by hearing people.  Each sign language throughout the world (and there areaas many as there are spoken languages) is distinct and they are not based upon spoken languages.  There is an International Sign language used at international conferences and this is in turn distinct from countries own sign languages.

BSL is not a series of gestures or mime.  It has it's own vocabulary, not all of which can be translated into English, it's own syntax and grammar and it's own rules.  Used fluently, it is incredibly graceful and beautiful to watch.

Yet the UK only officially recognised BSL as a language in 2003.  Seems bizzare huh?  In Scotland there is currently a consultation period occuring that will be used to decide if BSL should be recognised as language in Scotland, (for more information see here).  Scotland is part of the UK but sometimes has different laws, I'm not quite sure how or why this is the case, maybe a reader can enlighten me?

You can read more about the history of BSL here.  Stay tuned this week as I blather more about this.


Feminist Avatar said...

Scotland and England are two different countries joined by an Act of Union in 1707, which allowed for union in certain areas (most notably in their economies and parliament) but not in others (the law, education, church to name a few). This is similar to the European Union- where certain things are unified and others aren't.

This means the Westminister parliament has no right to interfere in certain areas (the law in a big one), and traditionally all Scottish legislation had to go through Westminister separately from ENglish legislation, had to pass certain hurdles that proved it followed the Scottish law and that it was in the interests of Scotland, and it was administered by the Scottish Office. Today, this function is taken over by the Scottish parliament. The exception is law relating to taxes and other economic type things, which are done in concert with English-Welsh-N. Irish legislation.

Wales is different because their union was the outcome of a series of wars and there is no formal treaty. It was not until devolution that there became a distinction between English and Welsh in terms of law or governance. Ireland is also different as their Union followed invasion, and happened in 1800 to pacify a very unhappy Irish population (who until 1800 actually had it's own parliament). It was a very resented 'Union' as it was seen as an imposition, rather than a treaty between equal partners. We can still see the fall out of this now in NI in disputes between unionists and non-unionists (which can be a more complicated debate than just some people wanting to be part of the Republic and some people part of the UK, as you can still want to be part of the UK and think the 'Union' was a pile of pants).

Saranga said...

Thank you FA! That's much clearer. I must admit I didn't know Scotland hadn't been invaded. :o

Feminist Avatar said...

Can't beat them. Join them.