First and Tenth days of Deaf Awareness Month

It’s the 10th of September and a lot of topics have been differs about Deaf life in Trinidad and Tobago, from the HoH Dr.Eric Williams who helped shape our country into what it is today,


to CODAs and Deaf/HoH university students who are starting this year (not the first, but definitely not the last either), to Deaf terminology, and employment opportunities.

I think I’ll post a bit of my own.

TTSL has its origins in ASL, BSL, home signs, and even the spoken Trinidad English.

Some night it was, I was going through some signs in TTSL that I could remember. Then I found a sign that could possibly be influenced by BSL. Maybe. Any British Sign Language users, feel free to correct me if it seems wrong. I mean, total knowledge of BSL came from Ed Sheeran’s You Need Me video. And you didn’t even see that much coming to the end.

The sign for FAULT in TTSL is an I handshape, (like the I in ASL), pointing up, with the far side of the hand (away from the thumb) through direction, showing who is at fault. I point it to her, it’s her fault; placed against my chest, my fault, etc.

The same handshape is used in BSL, denoting a negative.(from what I saw ( from aforementioned video ) and this link. In it can be described as Primary hand held in fist with little finger extended and pointing up. It doesn’t seem to use direction to show who or what is bad from this information.

Semantically, then, it could have come from  BSL. Phonetically / phonologically as well? The handshape is possible in both. Location is similar, if not the same – in front of chest. Orientation is also similar, with the pinkie pointing up. Movement. There is movement in TTSL, where direction shows who’s at fault. I can’t say for BSL for sure. Non manual markers. You see it in even the spoken Trini languages – facial expressions, wide hand movements. Naturally,  TTSL would be the same. Non manual markers are a significant element in the phonology of the language even among other sign languages where it’s necessary. You can see it in FAULT where the signer had a sad expression on his face. I can’t say for  BSL although for BAD it doesn’t really seem that it’s there.

So there is my little observation about the origins of our sign language. I’m not Deaf or a native signer in any language, so it’s pretty much foreign to me.

Because of this, if I’m wrong, anyone with knowledge in ASL, BSL, TTSL or any sign language that can help refine it, please feel free to tell me. I’m more than willing to learn.

– K. ~


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