Sign Language feat seems to misunderstand sign language.


Skills, Feats, Equipment & Spells


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The skill feat "Sign Language" states that you learn the sign languages associated with the languages you know, but that doesn't really make any sense. Sign languages are full languages on their own, with their own grammar, vocabulary, and structure separate from spoken languages, and their ancestries are typically very separated from those of spoken languages. American sign language's closest relative isn't English, but French sign language, and Finnish Sign Language's closest relative is Swedish Sign Language, despite Swedish and Finnish languages not being related. The rules should handle Sign Languages just like they would any other language, there's no reason for this feat to exist that I can see.

A real world concept more similar to this idea would be Manually Coded Languages, which are ways of conveying spoken language through signs, but are not sign languages, any more than written languages are a language separate from their spoken form. Sign Languages are specifically distinct natural languages. Maybe they should make a "manual code" feat?


I guess association with a language doesn't mean they are intrinsically connected, perhaps?

Just as English is associated with ASL in the US, Undercommon could be associated with Drow Sign Language.

Of course there's no reason why two Dwarven-speaking societies couldn't have two different sets of sign languages, but then it's getting a bit too convoluted.


ASL isn't really clearly "associated" with english, except by some exchange of loanwords and proximity. Other sign languages exist in other English speaking countries, and ASL is more closely related to non-English languages than it is to English.

The point I'm getting at, I guess, is that they're distinct languages. The amount of knowledge you have to absorb and effort you put in is the same as learning any other language. Given that sign languages tend to not be closely related to the languages they're in physical proximity to, it seems odd to have a feat that just doubles the number of languages one knows, with languages it would be entirely possible, or likely, to not be related to any of the languages you know. There's already a feat for learning languages, why not just use that?


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Point taken.

I'd love to see some setting-specific Sign Languages added then!


Perhaps for simplicity of knowing that you do have the sign language feat and also know gnomish, you know you can communicate with gnomes of all kind without remembering which languages you know verbal and sign for?

As a separate justification if need be, it's easy to say there's a universal phonetic sign language in use with all civilized species, invented somewhat more recently during the age of cooperation (based on drow hand signs or way simpler than theirs and stolen by them,I sincell know they aren't cooperating). Being phonetic, it would be universal to any language you understand the sounds to.


What you're describing is manually coded language, like I said before. Manually coded language is more similar to a writing system than to sign language, with sign languages being full distinct languages in their own right, not simply a coded form of a spoken language spoken nearby.


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I really don't understand why we need a feat for sign language, and agree with Smaugnolia's points about sign language not directly corresponding to the associated verbal language. It's overcomplicated, indicates a lack of understanding of how sign languages work, and makes it unnecessarily difficult for a hearing party to communicate with a Deaf party member.

Just add sign languages to the language list with the same availabilities as their associated spoken languages. It worked fine in Starfinder.


Well apparently it doesn't work like that on Golarion. I guess you are the one who misunderstands sign language in this context.


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N-Sphere wrote:
Well apparently it doesn't work like that on Golarion. I guess you are the one who misunderstands sign language in this context.

I think you're missing the point. Paizo didn't have to include sign language, the fact that they tried means that they're going for inclusivity. If they'd like to be inclusive, they should make an effort to actually include the people they're trying to include.


I wonder though
if someone is mute does that mean they simply can't cast ? or is there a way for sign language to cast auditory. (just not for the spells that require other peopel to understand it.. unless the target knows sign I guess and watches)


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I'm at a crossroads. The OP is correct, sign language is very different.

On the flipside, Starfinder does all signed and tactile languages as their own languages. This triples the language count, which is a little hasslesome particularly when it comes up along the lines "when will you ever use Castrovellan sign language?"

This is compounded my not getting as much language option in the Playtest. Gone is +1 language per intelligence modifier, and instead you have +1 if you have int 14. Additionally, Linguistics (or Culture in Starfinder) is no longer a skill in order to gain new languages easily. Multilingual is a feat, and while you get a lot of those, not nearly enough to warrant additional feat use for signed or tactile language (no offense, I love learning languages but compared to prior it is a lot harder).

As much as I hate to say it, my ideal would be just make Golarian sign language it's own language. Just one. Or if you really wanted to, diversify it with the regional dialects rather than racial, as many of them are optional as it is.


Isaac Zephyr wrote:
As much as I hate to say it, my ideal would be just make Golarian sign language it's own language. Just one. Or if you really wanted to, diversify it with the regional dialects rather than racial, as many of them are optional as it is.

Well, Golarion already has a "common" which is spoken more widely than any single language was in real medieval times, as far as I'm aware. (Yes, I know that e.g. French was used among the nobility, but most people still didn't know it.) Why shouldn't the same apply to sign language?

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