Adamorobe Sign Language

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Adamorobe Sign Language
Mumu kasa
Native to Ghana
Region eastern Ghana, Adamorobe village
Native speakers
35 deaf  (2001)[1]
Most of the 1,300 hearing villagers (2000) sign to varying degrees
Village sign language, West African gestural area
Language codes
ISO 639-3 ads
Glottolog adam1238[2]

Adamorobe Sign Language (AdaSL) is a village sign language used in Adamorobe, an Akan village in eastern Ghana. It is used by about 30 deaf and 1370 hearing people.[3][4] Ethnologue reports a total of 3,400 signers, including hearing users, but a recent census mentions a total of 1400 inhabitants.

The Adamorobe community is notable for its unusually high incidence of hereditary deafness (genetic recessive autosome), estimated at 2% of the total population,[3][4] or 15% according to Ethnologue. In the past, this percentage is thought to have been as high as 60%. Deaf people are fully incorporated into the community.

Under these circumstances, AdaSL has developed an indigenous sign language, fully independent from the country's standard Ghanaian Sign Language (which is related to American Sign Language). AdaSL shares signs and prosodic features with some other sign languages in the region, such as Bura Sign Language, but it has been suggested these similarities are due to culturally shared gestures rather than a genetic relationship. AdaSL has features that set it apart from the sign languages of large deaf communities studied so far, including the absence of classifier constructions for the expression of motion and location. Instead, AdaSL uses several types of serial verb constructions also found in the surrounding oral language, Akan. Frishberg suggests that AdaSL may be related to the "gestural trade jargon used in the markets throughout West Africa".[5] Thus AdaSL provides an interesting domain for research on cross-linguistic sign languages.

For over a decade, the deaf children of the village have attended a boarding school in Mampong-Akuapem, where the ASL based Ghanaian Sign Language is used. As a consequence, this language has become the first language of these children and their command of AdaSL is decreasing. This is likely to lead to a complete shift of the deaf community in Adamorobe to Ghanaian Sign Language. As such, AdaSL is an endangered sign language.

Further reading[edit]


  1. ^ Adamorobe Sign Language at Ethnologue (17th ed., 2013)
  2. ^ Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Adamorobe Sign Language". Glottolog 2.2. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. 
  3. ^ a b Victoria Nyst (In Baker et al. (eds.) Cross-linguistic perspectives in sign language research, Hamburg: Signum, 2003). "The phonology of name signs: a comparison between the sign languages of Uganda, Mali, Adamorobe and The Netherlands".  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  4. ^ a b Victoria Nyst ((unpublished paper presented at Colloquium on African Languages & Linguistics 34, Leiden, August 2004, and at Theoretical Issues in Sign Language Research 8, University of Barcelone), 2004). "Verbs of motion in Adamorobe Sign Language".  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  5. ^ Nancy Frishberg (1987). Ghanaian Sign Language. In: Cleve, J. Van (ed.) Gallaudet encyclopaedia of deaf people and deafness. New York: McGraw-Gill Book Company. 

External links[edit]