The different means of communications, which we have today, have bridged that gab between people and nations. They have brought the whole world even closer than how it used to be thousands of years ago. The day-to-day interaction between people around the globe is becoming easier every day as communication links are smarter and faster today making this world a virtual village. For that reason, people are urgently required to acquire other languages, which mark an essential way of communication.
Having another way of communication, like learning a new language, would definitely help people easily communicate with people from other nations, backgrounds and cultures. It is attributed that understanding other languages is regarded the doorway to wisdom!
Speaking or at least understanding the basics of other languages, as a plus point, could be an icebreaker to start a conversation with others, speaking that particular language. Perhaps, learning some greeting phrases of other languages serve as an effective starter for a friendly conversation.
It is always great that one has the interest to learn a new foreign language; however, such process involves a number of challenges of course. Once this learning mission kicks off, one has to keep in mind that the journey to multilingualism feels like a never-ending road trip with countless dead ends. In order to acquire the spoken form of a new language, learners should master the sounds or phonemes that make the language and understand how to arrange words (syntax) to make meaningful utterances.
They must also learn new vocabularies from that language as well as practice them in dialogues of different contexts.
One of the most significant languages that are unusually learned or spoken among people is the sign language. However, it is a very essential tool to communicate with deaf people and the world has designated a special day to celebrate its importance and realise the human rights of deaf people.
The day also highlights the linguistic identity and culture diversity of all sign language users worldwide. Countries are marking this day to recognise the importance of sign languages in achieving the global goals
and fulfilling its core promise of leaving no one behind.
According to the World Federation of the Deaf, there are about 72 million deaf people around the world. Collectively, they use more than 300 different sign languages and over 80 per cent of those people live in developing countries.
In the Sultanate itself, there are 4,754 people registered with hearing disability in 2018, with 3.5 per cent increase compared to 2017. Besides, 62 per cent of those deaf people are in the age group 30 and above.
Sign language is based on the idea that sight is the most useful tool for a deaf person to communicate and receive information.
Unlike in spoken languages, the different sounds created by words and tones of voice are the most important devices used to communicate. Thus, sign language uses hand shape, position and movement; body movements, gestures, facial expressions, and other visual signs to form its words.
Like any other language, fluency in sign language happens only after a long period of study and practice.
Learning sign language as a second language or acquiring it as a first language is probably not the same. Some studies focus on age as a critical issue for people who acquire sign language. For a person to become fully competent in any language, exposure must begin as early as possible, preferably before school age.
As well, researchers suggest that the first six months are the most crucial to a child’s development of language skills. The early discovery of a child’s hearing loss or deafness provides parents with an opportunity to learn about communication options.
A message from deaf people says, “My eye is my ear and my hand is my mouth. Sign language is the noblest gift God has given to deaf people”.