How many signs can you think of that feature these handshapes?
In sign language, handshapes are like the individual sounds we hear in spoken languages. For example, the sound 'sh' can be heard in many different words such as 'shoe' 'sheep' and 'handshape'!
Though we can hear and see the same sound in all of these examples, the words themselves have very different meanings. The same is true for sign languages.
The English language has around 44 individual sounds altogether. These are called phonemes. In British Sign Language, there are around 57 individual handshapes. When these handshapes are put together with location, movement and facial expression we can create signs that hold meaning.
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