How British Sign Language Developed Its Own Dialects




By  and  in The Conversation. 


There are many different ways of speaking English in the UK, with people using different regional dialects in different parts of the country. For example, some people would say “give it me” while others might say “give it to me”. There is also variation in the names given to everyday items like bread roll. Even when the same vocabulary is used, there are differences in accent – in how words are pronounced. For example, some people pronounce “foot” and “cut” so that they rhyme, while others do not.

What is perhaps much less well known is that the majority sign language of the UK’s deaf community, British Sign Language (BSL), also varies from one part of the country to another – it is clear that BSL has dialects. We do not know if BSL has regional accents (systematic differences in the pronunciation of the same signs) but research has found that deaf people from different parts of the UK use distinct regional signs for the same meanings (like the variation in words meaning “bread roll” in English mentioned above).


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