South African Sign Language
|South African Sign Language|
|Native to||South Africa|
|Native speakers||< 12,000 (date missing)|
South African Sign Language (SASL) is the primary language used by the Deaf community in South Africa. SASL was formally recognised in 1995, and is still being codified. It is promoted as the language of the South African deaf "community", although the deaf in South Africa form no single cohesive group.
In addition to SASL and about 12 other sign languages are used in South Africa, American Sign Language (ASL) is also popular, although since 2006 the teaching of ASL is officially discouraged. Most local sign languages in South Africa show influence of German and American sign language.
SASL is the sign language that is used during television news casts in South Africa. There are 40 schools for the deaf in South Africa, using a variety of sign languages.
South African Sign Language is not standardised and continues to evolve. Due to the geographical spread of its users and past educational policies, there are localised dialects of South African Sign Language and signs with many variants. Earlier efforts to create reference material and standardise the language such as books ( 1980 Talking to the Deaf, 1994 Dictionary of SASL can only be used has historical records of the language. Daily TV broadcasts in sign language gives today's South African Sign Language its national cohesion and unity.
Although South African Sign Language is not one of South Africa's 11 Official languages, the 1996 Constitution of the Republic of South Africa recognises the role and importance of sign language in general (see entry Legal recognition of sign languages) by encouraging further developments and the promotion of "sign language" in South Africa (Founding Provisions, Languages, Pan South African Language Board 6:5).
South African Sign Language is accepted as the language of instruction in the education of Deaf learners. "A recognized sign language" is made a legal medium of instruction by the 1996 Bill of Rights), followed by the 1996 South African Schools Act and finally by the 1997 Language in Education Policy of the Department of Education which grants South African Sign Language both "constitutional and legal protection in the South African context".
In 2008 the SASL Policy Implementation Conference gathered many key role players including scholars, researchers and teachers, policy makers, advocates and governmental bodies to promote South African Sign Language to become recognised as South Africa's 12th official language.
The number of deaf people in South Africa ( 600,000 deaf and 1.4 million people with hearing loss does not give an accurate depiction of the number of people who communicate in South African Sign Language. There is currently no estimate for the number of people who communicate in South African Sign Language in South Africa. Estimates vary greatly, from 700,000 to 2 millions users. A request has been made to the Human Sciences Research Council (South Africa) to include this measure has part of the Census 2011.[clarification needed]
Fingerspelling is a manual technique of signing used to spell letters and numbers (numerals, cardinals). Therefore fingerspelling is a sign language technique for borrowing words from oral languages. It is a practical to refer to the written world.
Words which are often fingerspelled tend to become signs in their own right, following linguistic transformation processes such as alphanumeric incorporation and abbreviation. For instance, the sign-name for Cape Town uses incorporated fingerspelled letters C.T. ( transition from handshape for letter 'C' to letter 'T' of both wrists with rotation an horizontal axis). The month of July is often abbreviated as 'J-L-Y'.
Fingerspelling words is not a substitute for using existing signs : it takes longer to sign, it is harder to perceive. If the fingerspelled word is a borrowing, fingerspelling depends on both users having knowledge of the oral language (English, Sotho, Afrikaans). Although proper names (such as a person's name, a company name) are often fingerspelled, it is often a temporary measure until the Deaf community agrees on a Sign name replacement.
Sign-names and Idioms 
Sign-names are specific signs which are associated to proper names (a location, a person, an organisation). Sign names are often chosen based on a salient physical property. For instance, the sign-name for Nelson Mandela is signed using a flat B-hand that follows a hair-line over the head. The sign-name for the bank ABSA is made with both hands following the movement implied in the company corporate logo.
Dialects and Variations 
South African Sign Language is an utterly distinct though incompletely emerged[clarification needed] national standard language, but which also subsumes a cluster of semi-standardised dialects. South Africa one of a few countries to have legal recognition of sign language.
History of education of the deaf in South Africa 
- 1863 Irish nuns start training programs in sign language
- 1874 Grimley Institute for the Deaf and Dumb established by Bridget Lynne in Cape Town
- 1881 De La Bat school established in Worcester
- 1920 Adoption of Oralism in Deaf schools
- 1934 Separation between European and Non-European schools
- 1941 First school "for the Black Deaf" established
- 1984 Medium of education changed from vernacular (native tongue) to English in Department Of Education and Training schools
- 1996 "Sign language" (but not specifically SASL) mentioned in the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa as a language to be promoted
As early as 1863, Irish nuns were involved in training programmes for the Deaf. Irish Sign Language, "originally heavily influenced by French Sign Language" is said to have had a noticeable influence in sign languages in the world, including in South Africa.
In 1881 in Worcester, De La Bat school for the Deaf was established.
From 1877, Dominican sisters started to settle near Durban. In 1884, Sister Stephanie Hanshuber, from Germany, introduced the oral method in South Africa.
In 1888 "King William's Town Convent School for the Education of the Deaf" was formally opened.
"Since there is little historical evidence, it is presumed that South African Sign Language has a mixture of the Irish influence from the Dominican Irish nuns, and British influence as well as the American influence. (Sign Language is the natural language of the Deaf.)"
See also 
- DeafSA – Deaf South Africa, national non-governmental organisation
- Worcester Institute for the Deaf – School and Professional formation
- DTV – Deaf TV is a South African Sign Language studio with weekly broadcast on national TV.
- South African Sign Language Interpretation National Centre – Interpreting services
- Thibologa Sign Language Institution – Basic online SASL course
- Sign Genius – SASL learning software and online information
- SLED – Sign Language Education and Development, SASL courses.
- University of Witwatersrand – SASL courses
- University of Western Cape – SASL project 'iSign' and 'PhoneReader'
- University of the Free State – Afroasiatic Studies, Sign Language and Language Practice – offers linguistic B.A. and M.A. courses .
- University of Stellenbosch – English Text to South African Sign Language (SASL) Project
- Sutton Sign Writing – Dictionary of South African Sign Language sign represented in a graphical form.
- Reagan, Timothy (2008), "South African Sign Language and language-in-education policy in South Africa", Stellenbosch Papers in Linguistics 38: 165–190, retrieved 2010-07-14
- "Bill NO. 84 OF 1996", South African Schools Act, 1996, 1996, retrieved 2010-08-02
- Lavanithum, Joseph (2008), "The impact of using graphic representations of signs in teaching signs to hearing mothers of deaf children", PhD thesis Augmentative and Alternative Communication, University of Pretoria: 20, retrieved 2010-07-14
- Nieder-Heitman, N. (1980), Talking to the Deaf. Praat met die Dowes. A visual manual of standardized signs for the Deaf in South AfricaLanguage policy and SASL: interpreters in the public service, South Africa: Government Printer
- Penn, Claire; Doldin, Debbie; Landman, Kas; Jan, Steenekamp (1994), Dictionary of Southern African Signs for Communication with the Deaf, South Africa: Human Sciences Research Council (South Africa), pp. 599–613 , ISBN 0-7969-1523-7 More than one of
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- Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996, 1996, retrieved 2010-07-14
- "Chapter 1: 1–6 Founding provisions", Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996, 1996, retrieved 2010-07-14
- "Chapter 2: 7–39 Bill of Rights", Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996, 1996, retrieved 2010-07-14
- (2003). DeafSA Information Booklet. South Africa: DeafSA.
- Olivier, Jaco (2007), South African Sign Language, retrieved 2007-10-09
- (1987). A Loss for Words: The Story of Deafness in a Family. New York: HarperPerennial. p. 31. ISBN 0-06-091425-4.
- Lucas, Ceil (2001), The Sociolinguistics of sign languages, Cambridge University Press: Cambridge University Press, p. 29, ISBN 0-521-79137-5
- Heap, Marion (2006), "11", Language policy and SASL: interpreters in the public service, South Africa: Human Sciences Research Council (South Africa), pp. 134–147 , ISBN 0-7969-2137-7 More than one of
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- Boner, K (2000), Dominican women: A time to speak, Pietermaritzburg: Cluster Press
- A Short History of St Vincent School, 2009, retrieved 2010-07-14
- Morgans, Helen (1999), Where did South African Sign Language Originate?, Language Matters 30 (1), South Africa: Routledge Informa Ltd, pp. 53–58, doi:10.1080/10228199908566144