Posted by: learnsignlanguage | June 11, 2010

British Sign Language uses a selection of handshapes

Handshapes in BSL

There are numerous handshapes that are individually categorised in BSL. Groups of handshapes are known as Classifiers which incorporate specific detail of the referent by the handshape itself.

A few examples of different classifiers can be described as:

Handling/grasping – you can use different handshapes that show you how you physically hold, or use something. For example sewing with a needle, or doing the ironing. These are described as iconic signs as they often ‘look’ how you actually perform something.

Flat surfaces– You can have a different handshape that will indicate if something has a flat surface such as ‘floor’ ‘door’ or ‘wall’.

People and vehicles– This group of classifiers have a function that is similar to the use of pronouns in English. For example different handshapes can indicate if you are looking up at something, if one person is involved in an action or many people. There are also various handshapes that indicate if you are talking about a vehicle or other mode of transport.

This is just a quick example of the various grammar rules that BSL use. For more information please go to


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: