Jump to content
Learn Chinese in China

中国手语/Chinese Sign Language


Recommended Posts

Site Sponsors:
Pleco for iPhone / Android iPhone & Android Chinese dictionary: camera & hand- writing input, flashcards, audio.
Study Chinese in Kunming 1-1 classes, qualified teachers and unique teaching methods in the Spring City.
Learn Chinese Characters Learn 2289 Chinese Characters in 90 Days with a Unique Flash Card System.
Hacking Chinese Tips and strategies for how to learn Chinese more efficiently
Popup Chinese Translator Understand Chinese inside any Windows application, website or PDF.
Chinese Grammar Wiki All Chinese grammar, organised by level, all in one place.

It's amazing how many Chinese movies I've seen that involve a deaf character. I always can tell the movie director doesn't know anything about the deaf because whoever acts the part of the deaf character does a lot of things that aren't realistic of true deaf behavior. 


I totally remember my first exposure to Chinese Sign Language in the 1980s. Nothing at all like American Sign Language. They gave me a book on CSL which I think may still have somewhere in my boxes in storage. True Chinese Sign Language has its own syntax, grammar, etc etc etc it is not word-for-word sign language that is signed Chinese. I knew I had become fluent in CSL when a deaf Chinese remarked to her friend "Wow look at Lelan's signing. ASL is exactly like CSL!" to which her friend obliged with, "Um...Lelan is signing in CSL. She's been here a long while."


If you want a real experience go to Beijing No. 4 School for the Deaf. What's really wild is hopping on the bus after school dismissal, packed full of signing deaf schoolkids. That was something. 


In the 1980s no one wanted to be around the deaf. Or the deaf were treated like zoo animals. That attitude has changed apparently because in 2011, I was on a Chinese airplane watching the obligatory safety video for takeoff, and the stewardess in the video spoke AND signed in Chinese. I was so stunned that I don't remember anything of that flight and almost forgot to disembark. Yet all the Chinese around me didn't seem like this video was anything out of the ordinary and carried on as usual. I guess they were blissfully unaware of how the deaf used to be regarded decades ago but I remember it all like yesterday. 


  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

There are still plenty of deaf people who've fallen by the wayside in modern Beijing, but they're generally older generations who never learned to sign or speak and presumably never received much of an education at all. You'll find them at roadside bike repair stands, mostly (and that's probably the lucky ones).

Interesting to hear how much attitudes have changed in the last few decades. I saw two signing 孙悟空s (strike a pose, pay a few kuai for a photo kinda thing) at 峨眉山, no-one batted an eyelid.

I was also surprised to see sign language used for the safety video on 川航 flights. However, they let themselves down by following up with an announcement about illegal activities in-flight which had Chinese-only audio and English-only text.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and select your username and password later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Click here to reply. Select text to quote.

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


  • Create New...