10 Facts About British Sign Language (BSL) Interpreters

onMay 1, 2018

inTranslation Tips

sign language interpretation

The World Federation of the Deaf recognises that there are 70 million people who use some form of sign language to aid communication. British Sign Language (BSL) is the language used by more than 87,000 deaf people in Britain whose English may be a 2nd or 3rd language. In fact, BSL is used by 151,000 individuals in Britain. This doesn’t allow for professional BSL users, BSL interpreters and BSL translators.

Sign languages are real and expressive languages but they aren’t the same as spoken languages. BSL is what is called a visual-gestural language with a distinct grammar. It uses handshapes, gestures, facial expressions and body language in order to put across meaning.

Here are some interesting facts about BSL interpreters and sign language

  • Sign language differs from one country to another.
  • Sign language has its own definite grammar. For example, a well constructed question must be accompanied by the right eyebrow position. When someone asks a question related to the question: where, who, what, when or why, the eyebrows usually remain down. If the question expects a yes or no response, the eyebrows remain up.
  •  A brain injury damages sign language in the same way it does to any spoken language. A person with a brain injury may be able to emit sounds but can’t put them into the right grammatical order.
  • Sign language isn’t just about the use of signs for communicating, but facial expressions, hand position and movement, gestures and body language are used as well.
  • In American Sign Language (ASL), the alphabet may be demonstrated by using a single hand but in British Sign language and German two hands will be used.
  • In ASL, all signs relevant to women, like a wife or daughter etc., take place close to the jaw line. With men they are signed close to the forehead.
  • Deaf people commonly use name signs when referring to people. These are signs, not full names and each person has one, so that the full name doesn’t need to be used.
  • Each sign is made up of five parts. Any change to them will alter the complete meaning of the sign.
  • The palm’s direction can alter the whole meaning of the sign.
  • Two movements of the same hand shape may each have a separate meaning.

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