What is the difference between American Sign Language and British Sign Language?

As I mentioned yesterday in my post Is Sign Language universal? every sign language is different and unique. ASL and BSL are two separate languages. Although there are some similar signs, their lexicons are quite different from each other.

One main difference is that ASL uses a one-hand fingerspelling alphabet while BSL uses a two-handed alphabet.

finger-spelling-the-alphabet 750 × 1024 BSL-Fingerspelling-Rule0

American Sign Language British Sign Language

Let’s see an example with the word ‘deaf’. The ASL sign for Deaf is the index finger touching the ear and then the mouth. The BSL sign is similar but instead of using the index only, they use the index and the middle finger.

In ASL, the middle finger is almost never used to form a sign. In BSL, the middle finger is used neutrally.

However, both ASL and BSL have the same potential for expressing meanings just as the spoken languages do.