Right gesture

Dictionary>> Hearing Impaired • Zimbabwe

Published: Monday 30 November -0001

imageA new unified sign language dictionary has gone on sale in Zimbabwe to end the confusion caused by the country’s various sign dialects. For example, the sign for “shoe” in the capital Harare means “pig” in the country’s second largest city, Bulawayo. And in Bulawayo you say “good” by giving two thumbs up but in Harare the sign is putting four fingers on top of the thumb.

Other signs have been changed because they are not culturally relevant. The widely used sign for “girl” imitates tugging a lock of long hair with the fingers, which is of US sign origin. But as many Zimbabwean women keep their hair short, the sign was replaced with one where the hands are put on the breasts.

Representatives of hearing impaired communities across the country worked on the year-long project, bringing together Zimbabwe’s various sign dialects that have evolved.

“Many people were not comfortable with the old sign language dictionaries as the signs they used were different to that used on ground, but this dictionary was made for the hearing impaired by the hearing impaired,” Sindile Mhlanga, one of the compilers of the new dictionary told BBC.

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