American Sign Language vs Ethiopian Sign Language
August 14, 2019
American Sign Language vs Ethiopian Sign Language I get asked a lot if I learned Ethiopian Sign Language, and yes, I learned some. American Sign Language is different though. Yes, there are different sign languages. Today, I’m go to show you how. Let’s start with the alphabet. In ASL, you’re familiar with the letters A, B, C, D, etc. But the Ethiopian letters are different. Their writing system is different, so it makes sense that their signs are different. Some of the hand shapes are similar to ASL, but others are weird and hard to do so their fingerspelling is completely different from ours. In ASL, I sign my name M-A-R-I-A. In Ethiopia I signed my name Ma-ri-a. In ASL the spelling is done by letter, but in Ethiopian Sign Language it is by sound. The movements represent the vowel sounds and the hand shapes represent the consonants. Ethiopian Sign Language didn’t suddenly appear one day. American Sign Language and a various European signed languages mixed together so Ethiopian Sign Language could grow and develop. Its roots are still visible today. ASL and Ethiopian sign have a lot of words in common; including: coffee name shoes monkey cow goat sheep bathroom sweet Jewish teach I love you Other words are different. Some started the same, but later changed in one language to a new word while the other stayed the same. Some words use completely different hand shapes that don’t exist in ASL. Deaf hearing hard of hearing sign language culture what where who when ready family brother sister mother father children student smart beautiful lazy tired hungry hippo giraffe camel math more rest tea problem forget skill night Catholic lake water Some of the words don’t have an English/ASL equivalent. They may be place names or languages that we don’t speak here. Addis Ababa (city) Bahir Dar (city)/Lake Tana Gondar (city) Amharic (spoken language) injera (type of food) chickarellum (no worries) There also words that English has that they don’t have a sign for. One example of this was at one of the schools we visited, I taught them the word “bear” because they didn’t have a sign for it. Only Ethiopian animals have signs in Ethiopian Sign Language. Ethiopian Sign Language is still relatively new, and will continue to develop and grow.