手語 Sign language
Sign language refers to a language in which meaning is conveyed by hand motions and movements instead of sounds, which is the more commonly used method of human communication. Sign languages are favored by deaf people around the world because these individuals are unable to hear spoken words.
The evolution of sign language was stunted for hundreds of years because of a few irresponsible opinions that originated in ancient Greece. In the year 364 BC, the famous philosopher Aristotle incorrectly declared that deaf people could not be taught because all learning occurred through hearing. This single ridiculous statement made Europeans assume for centuries that deaf people were inherently stupid.
Attitudes began to change in France in the eighteenth century, when a Catholic priest named Charles-Michel de L’Épée took an interest in two deaf street children who were able to communicate via hand signs. He went on to open a school that offered free education for deaf people. His students were encouraged to show him the signs they used at home, and L’Épée combined all these signs into a standard system. He used this system to teach his own students and educators from other countries. L’Épée eventually came to be known as the Father of the Deaf .
Decades later, an American doctor named Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet wanted to teach his deaf neighbor how to communicate, so he traveled to Europe in search of advice. After consulting with many of L’Épée’s successors, he returned to the United States and founded the American School for the Deaf, where his neighbor became one of the school's first students.
數十載過後，一位名為湯瑪斯‧ 霍金‧ 高勒德的美國醫師希望教導其聽障鄰居如何與人溝通，因此他前往歐洲請益。與德雷貝的眾多子弟諮詢過後，他返回美國，成立美國聽障學校，他的鄰居亦成為該校的第一屆學子。
Nowadays, there are many different sign languages around the world. American Sign Language (ASL), which was developed by Gallaudet's school, is the most popular dialect with anywhere between 250,000 and 500,000 users worldwide. ASL signs are somewhat like Chinese characters. They oftenresemble the concept they are trying to convey, but they're not a direct match.
如今，世界各地已發展出繁多不同的手語。由高勒德創辦的學校所發展出來的美式手語（簡稱ASL），是目前最廣為流傳的手語方言，全球約有25 萬至50 萬名的使用者。美式手語有點像中文字，手勢通常會與想要傳達的概念相似，但又不盡相同。
Also, ASL is much more than just an alphabet, which is a common misconception. Deaf people have come a long way since the days of Aristotle, and much of this progress is thanks to the sheer will of people like L’Épée, as well as the development of educational tools like sign language.