Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by Sofie. Sofie Wonders, “Who created sign language?” Thanks for WONDERing with us, Sofie!

How many languages do you know? Many people in the world only know one language. However, our world is more connected than ever. That’s making it more and more common for people to learn more than one language.

Have you ever heard someone call themselves “bilingual”? That means they know two languages. How about “trilingual”? Can you guess what that means? If you guessed it means they know three languages, you’re right! Many people also prefer to say they’re “multilingual.” That just means they know more than one language.

In today’s world, many people communicate in languages that aren’t even spoken. Are you WONDERing how that’s possible?

One unspoken language people communicate in is sign language. There are many types of sign language. Pidgin Sign Language is the most common sign language used in the United States by people who are deaf. Other common varieties are American Sign Language, British Sign Language, and Spanish Sign Language. All-in-all, there are between 138 and 300 different sign languages in the world!

If you’re hard of hearing or deaf, you know how helpful sign languages are. Many deaf people are great at communicating by speaking and reading lips. However, lips can be misread. Sign language allows us to talk with less confusion.

Do you use any signs regularly? Maybe a “thumbs up” to mean “yes”? Or a flat palm to mean “stop”? Sign language is much more complex. Signs can convey the meaning of words or short phrases. Words and names that don’t have their own signs are spelled out using fingerspelling.

One thing sign languages and spoken languages have in common is that facial expression is very important in both. They give context and help the listener understand the speaker better.

Who uses sign language? It’s a great communication tool for anyone to learn! Today, many people learn sign language as infants whether they’re able to hear or not. This helps them communicate before they learn to speak. When they grow up, these people are better able to communicate with those of us who are hearing impaired, too.

Many famous people have communicated through sign language. One of the most well-known is Helen Keller. She was an author and social rights activist who was both deaf and blind. The inventor Thomas Edison and pianist Ludwig van Beethoven are two other well-known people who were deaf.

Do you know a sign language? If so, help a friend learn a few signs. If not, now is a great time to start learning!

Standards: CCRA.L.3, CCRA.L.6, CCRA.R.1, CCRA.R.2, CCRA.R.4, CCRA.R.10, CCRA.W.2, CCRA.W.4, CCRA.W.9, CCRA.L.1, CCRA.L.2, CCRA.SL.1

Wonder What's Next?

Tomorrow’s royal Wonder of the Day will have you saying, “Good Knight!”