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From:  Nobukatsu Minoura
Date:  Sat Mar 16, 2002  6:37 pm
Subject:  Re: Names for sign languages


on 3/16/02 9:56 PM, Angus B. Grieve-Smith at wrote:
> And what about East and South Asia?

In Japan, the local sign language is usually called just:

shuwa = hand (shu) talk (wa) = sign language

But sign language linguists and sign language educators who are more in
favor of the natural sign language than the signed Japanese call it:

Nihon Shuwa = Japan (Nihon) hand (shu) talk (wa)

And it is usually NOT abbreviated further. Only a few linguists call it NS
in English. But this practice is very foreign to both the native signers of
the sign langauge and the native speakers of spoken Japanese.

If an English acronym is preferred for some reason, the name "JSL" is used
on the analogy of ASL, BSL, etc.

I only have second-hand and very limited knowledge of China and Korea, but
here is what I know. And I would like it to be corrected by the experts
from the relevant regions.

In China, the sign language is called either:

shouyu = hand (shou) language (yu)


Zhongguo shouyu = China (Zhongguo) hand (shou) language (yu)

In South Korea, the sign language is called either:

suhwa = hand (su) talk (hwa)


su'o = hand (su) language (o)

There seem to be some criteria as to which designation is used. E.g. the
designation suhwa is sometimes disliked because of the national Japanophobic
sentiment because it is componentially analogous to the Japanese word
"shuwa" and it is probably a loan translation from Japanese.

On the other hand, the designation "suhwa" (hand talk) is used for the
natural sign language and "su'o" (hand language) for the signed Korean.
(Does it imply that signed Korean is believed to be more like a "real
language" than the natural sign language?)

The natural sign language is sometimes called:

nongsa suhwa = deaf (nong) person (sa) hand (su) talk (hwa)

You can add the name of the country as in:

Hanguk Su'o = Korea (Hanguk) hand (su) language (o)

Unfortunately it probably suggests that signed Korean is preferred among the
local "specialists" than the natural sign language.

I do not know if the designation

Hanguk Suhwa = Korea (Hanguk) hand (su) talk (hwa)

is used at all and/or widely used.

Nobukatsu Minoura
Tokyo University of Foreign Studies
Tokyo, Japan

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