Interest in British Sign Language (BSL) is growing at a fantastic rate, and classes for hearing people are mushrooming all over the country.
This lively introduction to the principles of the language and its vocabulary will therefore be widely welcomed, giving a vivid insight into a form of communication that can appear quite difficult for those whose first language is English. As the author takes pains to stress, BSL is not a mimed version of English.
Equally rich and complex, it is visual, gestural and spatial, able to convey information and subtleties of meaning as fluently as any spoken language.
Once learners have ceased to think in terms of individual words, they will come to revel in a language that involves the whole person: facial and bodily expression and movement, eye contact and gaze, lip pattern and the fluid movements of the signs themselves, all combining to form an integrated language system with rules of its own. Using detailed drawings throughout to illustrate the nuances of meaning, the author groups the signs according to type, introducing each theme and showing how facial expressions, hand and finger movements and placements are used and combined to vary the sense of what is being communicated.
Her aim is to equip the reader with a basic understanding of the principles of sign language and a working knowledge of its vocabulary. In an ideal world BSL would be part of every school's curriculum, whether the pupils were deaf or not, thus giving deaf people the status in society which is their right.
Meanwhile, this book will make an important contribution to the growing interest in learning the language, so that more and more people will appreciate that signs really do make sense.