Exploring the Relationship Between Human Nature and Sign Language | by Abbie Lincoln | Jan, 2024

A DEAFinitely Dope read.

Human nature is intrinsically tied to our ability to communicate, and language serves as the primary vehicle for expressing thoughts, emotions, and experiences. In the fascinating realm of communication, sign language stands out as a unique and profound expression of human nature. This article delves into the intricate relationship between human nature and sign language, shedding light on the ways in which this form of communication reflects our innate social tendencies and the diversity of human expression.

Innate Social Nature:

At the core of human nature is a deep-seated need for social connection. Sign language, whether American Sign Language (ASL), British Sign Language (BSL), or any other, exemplifies this innate social nature. It is a visual and gestural form of communication that emphasizes facial expressions, body language, and hand movements, allowing individuals to convey not only words but also the nuances of emotion and intention. The intricacy of sign language cannot go unnoticed when talking about human nature, and having a deep understanding of human body language is the foundation of sign language. The use of sign language is a testament to our natural inclination toward forming connections and understanding one another.

Matt Maxey teaching the sign for respect at the Emerge Leadership Summit

Cultural and Linguistic Diversity:

The relationship between human nature and sign language is further enriched by the cultural and linguistic diversity it encompasses. Different sign languages have developed organically within various Deaf communities worldwide, reflecting the richness of human expression. The existence of diverse sign languages emphasizes the adaptability and creativity inherent in human nature. There is a specific uniqueness that encompasses each person’s usage and understanding of sign language. It highlights our ability to develop various means of communication that are shaped by cultural experiences, geographical locations, and the distinct characteristics of each community.

Chance the Rapper learning sign language with Matt Maxey

Expressiveness and Emotional Nuances:

Sign language goes beyond mere words; it is a visual and kinetic art that captures the nuances of human emotion. The use of facial expressions, body movements, and the spatial aspect of signing allows for a depth of communication that goes beyond what spoken language can achieve. Verbal communication does not require facial expressions to enhance a story, and relies on the over expression and often the overuse of simple words. On the other hand, sign language requires the use of your body, not words, to emphasize the meaning or gravity behind what you are communicating. This expressive quality of sign language is a direct reflection of the emotional complexity inherent in human nature. It serves as a reminder that our ability to convey and understand emotions is not limited to verbal communication alone.

Martise Colston, a Deaf performer, signing to the interpreter on stage at NY State Fair

Inclusivity and Accessibility:

The relationship between human nature and sign language is also evident in its role as a tool for inclusivity. Deaf and Hard of Hearing individuals often find solace and connection through sign language. It bridges the gap between those who communicate orally and those who use visual-gestural language, fostering a sense of community and shared identity. The inclusivity of sign language showcases our inherent drive to connect with others and the adaptability of human nature in finding diverse means of communication.

Adaptability and Evolution:

Sign language is not a static form of communication; it evolves and adapts over time. This reflects the dynamic nature of human language and our capacity for innovation. The relationship between human nature and sign language is characterized by a continual process of refinement and adaptation, mirroring our innate ability to shape and reshape our modes of communication based on our evolving needs and understanding.

Matt Maxey interpreting for Chance the Rapper

The relationship between human nature and sign language is a profound exploration of our social, cultural, and expressive tendencies. As a visual and gestural form of communication, sign language embodies the adaptability, diversity, and inclusivity that define the human experience. In embracing the silent connection of sign language, we gain a deeper understanding of our shared humanity and the myriad ways in which we express, connect, and communicate with one another

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