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differences in sign language


Jo Bush

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Hello, my name is Jo, Im starting a level 1 BSL course in September, I am a complete beginner, I havnt had any experience at all,  I was advised to get as much learning in as I can before I start to give me a bit of a heads up, however I have found that alot of tutorial videos and sites that I have been on have shown to sign language slightly different to another, for example numbers.  How am I supposed to know which way is correct? they are all BSL sites that I look for, I can understand if it was an American version for example, so Im a bit confused.

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Hi. This confused me when I started too - but you soon get used to it!  It's called regional variation.

From what I understand, because BSL is used by a relatively small number of people it doesn't spread so much like verbal languages do - it has developed slightly differently in different areas (I suppose like spoken languages did before TV & radio) - it's a bit like having regional coloquialisms or dialect. 

Don't be put off by it - you quickly get used to it - but it does seem a bit daughnting to begin with!

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thank you Jenni, its a relief to know im not the only one ☺ I just didn't want to go learning it one way and then find I've been doing it all wrong when I go to college.  My other question now is I've learnt the ABC's do I mirror image the person on the tutorial or do I do it the same way, I.e if they use their right hand to do a sign, I use my right hand? or doesn't it realy matter? 😕 

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That depends if you are left or right handed.  The way I remember it is that the hand that does most of the movement is the right hand (I'm right handed).  So, for example, the letter A my left hand stays fairly still but my right hand moves to point to the thumb on my left hand... I hope that makes sense!

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It isn't about how the letters appear in relation to the English alphabet - don't worry about trying to make it look the same as written letters too much - though they can be used to help remember the signs.

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