From Home Sign to National Sign Language
Throughout our exhibition, we aimed to demonstrate the richness of various deaf cultures and sign languages from home sign systems to a national sign language, accompanied by the stories of individuals who have created, developed and used (and still use) these languages. Now, let us take a closer look at the stages of the aforementioned development processes of a signed system.
Each box down below will take you to a set of videos of the given lexical item or sentence. By clicking them, you can see how a sign with the same meaning is produced by individuals using different manual systems. The first group consist of hearing native Turkish speakers, who have no exposure or knowledge of any sign language. We asked tto describe the events they have watched by just using their own spontaneous silent gestures and mimics. At this level, we see a noticeable variability across participants. The second group, home signers, are much more efficient in their descriptions since they use a sign system, which is visibly different from spontaneous gestures. Nevertheless, the isolated nature of home signers disallows their own sign system to be shared and used by others, which in turn produces a high-level of diversity in signs used by different home signers. The third group, family sign language, develops when the individuals within a family communicate with each other. Therefore, compared to the home signers, the sign variation is relatively lessened in this group, as this sign system is shared by a (small) group of people. Compared to the third group which relatively shows less variation, the fourth group involves users of a village sign language (i.e. CTSL). They demonstrate convergence, as well as variation in their sign productions. In terms of the consistency among all participants, the most conventionalized system is exclusive to the fifth group of a national sign language (i.e. TID) users. Additionally, comparing all of the groups shows that there is variation not only in single signs but also in longer sign strings.
Notice that sign languages differ from one another and from the silent gestures of hearing participants. They have their own systematic patterns beyond the gestural productions of hearing individuals.