Communication through spoken and sign language

Communication through spoken and sign language

Communication is the process of interaction between people with or without the use of words. In the process of communication, the sender sends a message to the receiver through channels or mediums. The sender then sends the feedback to the receiver through an appropriate channel. Here the sender encodes a message and the receiver decodes a message after sending back the response to the message. In the article, we are going to discuss how communication through spoken and sign language works.

Methods of communication fall within the field of linguistic anthropology. There are two types of communication- Verbal and Non-verbal communication.

Verbal communication can be done in two ways-

Oral communication and Written communication

Oral communication is communication through spoken words, such as face-to-face communication, voice chat, video conferencing or communication over the telephone or mobile phone etc. Written communication is communication through writing. Examples- letter, application, chat, email, etc.

Non-verbal communication is the process of communication without the use of words. It involves the use of facial expressions, body language, gestures, postures, etc.

What is spoken language?

Spoken language is a part of verbal communication. It is the use of words and language to communicate with people. Vocal communication also occurs in animals, but in humans, the combination of voice and grammar makes it a complete language of communication.

According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, spoken means delivered by word of mouth.

According to Oxford Learner’s Dictionaries, spoken language involves speaking rather than writing; expressed in speech rather than in writing.

Here people use the mouth and vocal cords to produce sounds. Spoken language is not just the use of sound but the construction of sentences or words by a combination of sound and grammar. This is voice communication.

Spoken language (pic- Acutrans)
Spoken language (pic- Acutrans)

Many languages have both written and spoken forms but this is not a universal rule. There are some languages which have only spoken language without written form. For example, the Latin language has both spoken and written form and on the other hand, Mosuo (an ethnic group living in China’s Yunnan Province) have their indigenous language which is spoken only.

What is Sign language?

Sign language is a type of non-verbal communication. Sign language is the language that expresses thoughts, feelings and ideas through signs and symbols. Here the sender and the receiver mutually use signs and symbols to communicate a message.

According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, sign language is defined as any of various formal languages employing a system of hand gestures and their placement relative to the upper body, facial expressions, body postures, and finger spelling, especially for communication by and with deaf people.

According to Oxford Learner’s Dictionaries, sign language is a system of communicating with people who cannot hear, by using hand movements rather than spoken words.

In sign language, you cannot communicate through the use of oral and written language. Sign language is of course silent. Signs include eye rolling, thumb up, thumb down, little finger tapping, etc.

Sign language (pic- Niki's Int'l Ltd.)
Sign language (pic- Niki’s Int’l Ltd.)

Sign languages have different grammatical structures than spoken languages. Although sign language is used by most people depending on their situations, it plays an important role in the lives of deaf and dumb people. Other people who suffer from autism, down syndrome or cerebral palsy and people who want to communicate with someone whose native language is different from theirs prefer sign language for communication.

Sign language is learned through visualization, practice and patience. It is not a universal language. There are many sign languages found around the globe. There is no single sign language found. It is not important that countries sharing the same spoken language share the same sign language. For example, there are three varieties of English – American Sign Language, British Sign Language and Australian Sign Language.

International day of Sign Languages

Based on information mentioned on the UN site

The International day of sign Language is observed on 23rd September (proclaimed by the UN General assembly).

It aims to support and protect the linguistic identity and cultural diversity of all deaf people and other sign language users. It is a collective effort of the government, deaf communities and civil society organizations.

There are over 300 sign languages. There is also an international sign language that is used by deaf people at international meetings and informally while travelling and socializing.

Relationship between spoken language and sign language

In the modern world, many languages are found. Some are spoken while others are sign languages. Both are different from each other.

Spoken and sign language (pic- SlidePlayer)
Spoken and sign language (pic- SlidePlayer)

Spoken language is the use of sounds and words to express oneself. Grammar plays a greater role in spoken languages and follows specific rules. It is faster than sign language which means that sign language takes more time.

Like spoken language, sign language also develops naturally through interactions between native peoples. Like spoken languages, there are many sign languages as well. Both languages are used to communicate messages, just the way they convey messages differs from each other.

Sign language is not derived from spoken language. They are developed and evolved independently.

In spoken languages, vocal cords are used while in sign language gestures and facial expressions are used. Sign language uses the movement of the mouth and vocal tract and sign language on the other hand uses the movement of the hands, face and arms.


Sign language is used in place of spoken language whenever it is impossible to use spoken language for communication. Sign language serves as a bridge between people with different mother tongues and between the deaf community and the rest of the world.

Today more and more people are beginning to understand the importance of sign language. The use of sign language is increasing day by day. More and more people want to understand sign language.


What Is Spoken Language?

Difference Between Sign Language and Spoken Language

What is sign language?

Sign languages

Read more


  1. Interesting post, K. Using sign language – whether to communicate with folks who cannot hear or people who speak a different language – forces one to mindfully think in order to bond, to listen and to understand one another. The spoken word can bond but people often speak mindlessly. However, signing definitely goads us to be mindful in order to process our communication. This I have learned traveling the world as my sign language is not really official, yet, works like a charm when two people who speak different languages need to understand one another.


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