The Full South African Sign Language (SASL) course is geared towards giving you comprehensive undestanding of sign language and help you to become a proficient SASL practitioner.
Sign language is about using your hands to communicate by moving them them through the space in and around your body, using specific hand shapes and accompanying facial expressions in order to convey a certain meaning. Sign language is used by the deaf to communicate with each other, with those that are hard of hearing or with those hearing people who enjoy communicating via sign language.
What is South African Sign Language (SASL)?
SASL is the specific dialect of sign language used by the South African Deaf community.
- It is a real, full and grammatically complex language.
- It is uniquely South African and is not used in other countries. Although there are similarities between SASL and sign language dialects used in other countries such as Germany and the USA.
- It is a visual language that has been created by the South African deaf community.
- It is an identifiable language for a distinct social group, therefore it lives and changes as the society that uses it changes. It is not a static language but grows with the deaf community.
Differences between SASL and standard English
SASL differs from spoken and written English in both language structure and medium of communication. These differences are apparent between other signed and spoken languages as well. Sign languages are visual and spatial, while independent of sound. Spoken languages utilise sound as the primary medium of communication - such as pitch, intonation, volume and voice inflection - while facial expression and gestures play a very minor role in the communication process. Sign language practitioners can use three options to convey additional information that are rarely, if ever, used in spoken language:
- Visual motivation for the signs
- Placement and movement in space of signs
Classifiers for SASL
Productive signs include signs that are called 'classifiers' or more correctly, 'classifier predicates'. These classifier predicates can include:
- Handling classifiers - e.g. HOLD a needle, HOLD a spoon.
- Semantic or whole-entity classifiers - e.g. car MOVES, people MOVE.
SASL can refer to as many referrents as English can, but may do so in different ways. Signs are different from spoken words, as signs frequently share some visual relationship with the referent.
Nevertheless, signs are not just pantomime and gesture. There are very clear indicators of what makes up a 'well-formed' sign. To create a well-formed sign, signers need to produce signs with the correct:
- Location - for example:
- In space
- On the body
- Against the other hand
- The path taken by the hand or arm through signing space
- Internal movement of joints - especially in relation to which fingers move at which joint
- Orientation of the palms and fingers
- Non-manual features (features not using the hands)
- Facial Expression
- Eye aperture and blinking
- Head movement
- Lip pattern