What is BANZSL


BANZSL is a sign language family which encompasses British Sign Language (BSL), Australian Sign Language or Auslan and New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL). In fact, the three types of sign language can be considered a dialect of BANZSL because they share most of the signs, and use the same manual alphabet and the same grammar. BANZSL are used in Britain, Australia and New Zealand but they are also used in many other countries across the globe including South Africa and part of Canada. According to some scholars, Swedish Sign Language is also a part of BANZSL as a descendant of BSL.

About Auslan and NZSL and Their Relationship with BSL

Auslan is a sign language that is used by the deaf community in Australia. The term Auslan was first used in the early 1980s by Trevor Johnson but the language itself is a lot older. The sign language that is used by the deaf community in Australia is closely related to BSL and originates from the same sign language as the latter. But it has also been greatly influenced by the Irish Sign Language (ISL) and in the recent years by the American Sign Language (ASL).

NZSL is a sign language that is used by the deaf community in New Zealand. Just like Auslan, NZSL is closely related with BSL and originates from the same language as the latter. It is recognised as a official minority language in New Zealand only since 2006.

American Sign Language (ASL) and Its Similarity to BANZSL

Rather than to BANZSL, American Sign Language (ASL) is more similar to French Sign Language. This is due to the fact that Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet (the pioneer in education of the deaf in the United States) borrowed more signs from Old French Sign Language than from BSL. In the early 19th century, Gallaudet visited Thomas Braidwood’s school for the deaf to learn more about the methods used in Braidwood’s school but he was rejected. He therefore travelled to Paris where he learned the methods for educating the deaf from the French Royal Institution for the Deaf that used a combination of Old French Sign Language and signs that were developed by the French “Father of the Deaf”, Abbe Charles-Michel de I’Epee.

ASL is unrelated to BANZSL although there is a considerable overlap. But while ASL and BANZSL have only slightly more than 30 percent identical and slightly less than 45 percent cognate signs, the languages of BANZSL have over 80 percent identical and 98 percent cognate signs.

ASL is spoken by the deaf community in the United States and English-speaking parts of Canada but its variations are also used in many parts of South East Asia, West Africa and some countries of South America.