Manual alphabet is used to fingerspell a series of the alphabetical letters to form a phonetic or a spoken/written word of another language. E.g. a person's name, a place, a technical word, etc.
There are different manual alphabets around the world. On the other hand, some countries have similar manual alphabets with a few modifications, borrowing an alphabet from one another, but their signed languages remain to be distinct.
The one-handed American manual alphabet is a set of 26 manual alphabetical letters, corresponding to the English alphabet. It is used to fingerspell a string of the alphabetical letters of a certain English word, person's name, etc.
This American manual alphabet with a few modifications is derived from the French manual alphabet of the 18th century. Its cognates can be found in other signed languages' manual alphabets. For example, the German and American manual alphabets are similar; however, ASL and German Sign Language are completely different.
The two-handed British manual alphabet is commonly used in Australia, England, New Zealand and some other countries. Both British manual alphabet and British sign language are entirely different from the American manual alphabet and American Sign Language which are mainly used in the U.S. and Canada.
You can download the poster (pdf) of American Manual Alphabet.
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