Sign Language Numbers
Knowing what ‘Sign language’ means
Sign language constitutes communication through hand gestures and additionally, facial expressions. It is a visual language and has been in use since a long time, serving as an interacting medium particularly for the hearing impaired. Interestingly, the gestures are not merely a representation of words (spoken / written). Grammar and syntax are an integral part of the highly developed forms of sign language.
Numbers and figures in sign language
Like words and thoughts, numeric values can also be conveyed though specific signs and gestures. Interestingly, it can be done in 27 different methods. But before we move on to the actual signs which are used for the purpose, lets us get familiar to the two distinct types of numbers involved.
The numbers which are used for general counting are called Cardinal numbers. For instance, the number of cats you own, the number of times you have travelled in a train etc. However, the numbers which are used to indicate orderly placement, i.e., to indicate position, are called Ordinal numbers. For example, third, ninth, fifth, first etc.
Working with Cardinal numbers:-
In order to count from 1 to 10 in ASL (American Sign Language), make the following gestures with your dominant hand and have your palm facing your chest till 5, as shown below.
Switching to another popular version, here is how you can sign numbers in the British Sign Language.
It is important to keep in mind that to convey items existing in plural, the item needs to be signed first followed by the number. For instance, if you have to say “Four Books” in sign language then you make the appropriate gesture for ‘Book’ followed by that of number ‘4’.
To convey numbers such as 40, 50 and so on in sign language, you sign the first digit (4, 5) followed by the sign of ‘0’.
Similarly, you can sign 100, 200 and so on.
Note: For numbers 200, 300, 400 and 500, an alternative sign can be used to denote ‘hundred’, as given below.
Working with ordinal numbers:-
Ordinal numbers are signed in the same manner as cardinal numbers with an additional twist of the wrist for digits 1 – 9. Beyond 9, the number sign is to be succeeded with ‘th’ finger-spelled, as show below.
For example, if you have to sign “23rd” then you will sign 23 followed by “th”,
Like every other language in use, the sign language too, has its different regional versions as well as dialects. The set of visual cues comprising the language has consistently evolved to include more and more symbols and gestures concerning the speedy development of the society around us. So do not be surprised if you find more than one sign language existing in a particular country. For instance, Belgium has two different sign languages – French Belgian Sign Language and Flemish Sign Language. The same can be said for countries with identical language, such as the United Kingdom and Ireland.
Although, there is no universal sign language, but there does exist an international communication system called International Sign (IS) is often used at international conferences and serves as a bridge between users of differing sign languages.