Today I Discovered There Are More Than 300 Sign Languages In The World

Here’s something I learnt recently: There are more than 300 sign languages in the world. This discovery has made me feel somewhat ignorant, because, just like the languages of the world, of course there is more than one sign language!

YouTuber Tom Scott produces a semi-regular series he calls ‘Things You Might Not Know’ and, as the title suggests, he often makes videos about things… you might not know. For me, this was certainly the case with a recent video he uploaded called Sign language Isn’t Universal.

In the video he asks Rikki Poynter, a deaf YouTube vlogger who routinely posts videos in American and British sign language, to explain the some of the differences in those two sign languages, why those differences arose and a reason why sign language isn’t universal.

However, there is an exception! There is a language known as International Sign, which Poynter explains is used in big events where many deaf people gather, such as the Deaflympics.

It was a fascinating wake up call for me, someone who has had little interaction with deaf people or those fluent in sign language and made me realise the breadth of language and the cultural influences on communication.

The short video is below:

Well worth five minutes of your time.

Today I Discovered is a daily dose of facts for Lifehacker readers – the weird, wonderful and sometimes worrying. Most of the time, it’s just mind-blowing. Let us know if you discovered anything that blew your mind in the comments!

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