Medical Definition of Sign language

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Sign language: A language that employs signs made with the hands and other movements, including facial expressions and postures of the body, used primarily by people who are deaf. There are many different sign languages as, for example, British and American sign languages. British sign language (BSL) is not easily intelligible to users of American sign language (ASL). Unlike ASL, BSL uses a two-handed alphabet. In developing countries, deaf people may use the sign language of educators and missionaries from elsewhere in the world. For example, some deaf individuals in Madagascar use Norwegian sign language. By contrast, deaf children in Nicaragua have created their own sign language. Study of the emerging Nicaruagan sign language (NSL) has revealed that children naturally possess learning abilities capable of giving language its fundamental structure. See also: American sign language.

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Reviewed on 12/21/2018

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