Providence Island Sign Language (also known as "Providencia Sign Language") is a village sign language of the small island community of Providence Island in the Western Caribbean, off the coast of Nicaragua but belonging to Colombia. The island is about 15 square miles (39 km2) and the total population is about 5000, of which an unusual proportion are deaf (5 in 1,000).
It is believed that the sign language emerged in the late 19th or early 20th century. Brief sociological studies have suggested that deaf people on the island are regarded as inferior in mental ability; hearing people do not discuss complex ideas with them, and they hold a marginalized social position. Perhaps consequently, PISL is rather simplistic in comparison to other sign languages. Another possibility for the state of the language is that few deaf people communicate directly, meaning that almost all signing is mediated by the hearing population.
^Lattig MC, Gelvez N, Plaza SL, Tamayo G, Uribe JI, Salvatierra I, Bernal JE, Tamayo ML (2008). "Deafness on the island of Providencia - Colombia: different etiology, different genetic counseling.". Genetic Counseling19 (4): 403–12. PMID19239084.
^Meir, Sandler, Padden, & Aronoff, (to appear). "Emerging sign languages." In Marschark & Spencer, eds., Oxford Handbook of Deaf Studies, Language, and Education.
^a Sign-language names reflect the region of origin. Natural sign languages are not related to the spoken language used in the same region. For example, French Sign Language originated in France, but is not related to French.