There is an abundance of culture and language that make the human society all over the world. Society has many traits of which each is unique and special in their own way. But the most interesting aspect of the society is the way people speak and communicate, that is, language. But for a long time this language was of no use to those who do not here the spoken language. For many years these groups of people slowly and gradually developed their own language, a language that employs the use of hand signs and body gestures to convey messages. This is the form of communication that has come to be known as sign language. It is a language that no person really knows when and where it began, the only thing known is that it developed over time from many people and there it is as diverse as the spoken language. In this paper we are going to look at sign language in detail.
For one to understand how sign language came into being, he or she will have to analyze the events that occurred in the deaf history. Some scientists have credited mankind as the first sign language inventors, something that is probably very true. Early man probably used sign language before spoken language came into being. Most likely man pointed or created signs for those things they couldn’t talk about. There are those who strongly believe that it was Juan Pablo de Bonet who invented the sign language. It is recorded that in the year 1620, he wrote a book that had the first ever manual alphabet system. The handshapes that were contained in this system stood for different speech sounds. It was a great accomplishment to create the first manual alphabet system, however, this was not the first manual alphabet, it was just as a system. And therefore the search for who invented sign language goes on. There are those who think that sign language was invented by the deaf people who were leaving on Martha’s Vineyard. The Martha’s Vineyard Sign Language (MVSL) is a very old sign language that was on the island of Martha’s Vineyard found on the coast of Massachusetts. There was commonness for hereditary deafness on the island that started in the 17th century. It is therefore evident that these people were not the first to use sign language because Bonet came earlier on before them but they definitely played a big role on the development of future sign language (Larson 1998).
The most common answer that many people give when asked, “Who invented sign language?” is, Abbe Charles Michael de L’Epee. He was the one who established the first free public school for deaf in 1771 in Paris. L’Epee used a standard sign that he created to educate the deaf. There many people assume that he is the one who invented sign language because this was the sign used widely. But when considers the fact that the children who attended L’Epee’s school came from all over the country, in fact some came from Martha’s Vineyard. These kids had been using sign language at their homes and therefore brought the signs with them to school. Learning all these signs from the children, L’Epee came up with his own standard sign language, and just like Bonet, he also created a system, not the first language. It is L’Epee’s sign language that eventually developed into the French Sign Language and also widely used in Europe. Laurent Clerc and Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet established the first American school for the deaf. They are therefore credited as the inventors of the American Sign Language, but it can be said that this is partially true because Laurent was from Europe where he taught French Sign Language. He was brought to America by Thomas Hopkins to start the first school for the deaf. Today there are different sign languages used all over the world. All these have come about because of the necessity for the language, communication and education of the deaf. Sign language therefore came about due to a natural process and the fact that it is the only natural language for the deaf. There are many sign languages used today in the world. These deaf communities communicate differently using their own version of sign language. The American Sign Language is one of the most popular sign languages prevalently used in the US and to some extent in Mexico and Canada (Sign Language n.d).