Sign Language
on a peace pole

"May peace prevail on earth"
in the vernacular of sign language

Since deaf people can read the other translations as well as anyone else, I thought that sign language on peace poles should be more than textbook sketches of hand signs. This is a somewhat impressionistic interpretation in brushstrokes. (click to enlarge)

Sign language is based on movement and facial expression as much as on finger configuration since normally it is used only to replace audible communication and is not used for written communication. With motion a single gesture can communicate a word or an entire phrase. Since the symbols on a peace pole cannot not move, the manual alphabet must be used to spell it out.

Each of these hand gestures signifies a letter of the alphabet. Sign language uses the same Roman alphabet that English uses, but has a different grammar. Its way of saying "May peace prevail on earth" is to say "Peace in the world." Those four words can be discerned in the picture on the left by finding the spaces between the groups of hand-signs. The second letter from the top is an "e" which appears three times in the phrase in the same places it would if spelled out in the Roman alphabet.

There are 100,000 to 500,000 primary users of sign language around the world.

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Joel Selmeier
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Site Updated December 8, 2011