Albanian Sign Language

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Albanian Sign Language
Gjuha Shenjave e Shqipe
Native to Albania
Native speakers
3,000 (2007)[1]p. 196
Language codes
ISO 639-3 sqk
Glottolog alba1271[2]

Albanian Sign Language (AlbSL, in Albanian Gjuha Shenjave e Shqipe) is one of the deaf sign languages of Europe. It is unrelated to other sign languages of the Balkans.

It is relatively young, having developed primarily since the collapse of Communism in 1990. During the communist era, deaf people did not associate with each other on a regular basis. Their communication was primarily with hearing people, and so was strongly influenced by Albanian, with extensive use of fingerspelling and initialized signs, along with some gestures borrowed from hearing people. After the collapse of communism, Deaf people began to congregate and a fully-fledged sign language developed. They invented new signs to replace the former use of fingerspelling, and also came into contact with International Sign and other European sign languages, resulting in a large number of loan words. The language continues to change rapidly, with innovations tending to radiate outward from the capital, Terena, to rural areas.[1]


  1. ^ a b Hoyer, Karin (2007). "Albanian Sign Language: Language contact, International Sign, and gesture". In Quinto-Pozos, David. Sign Languages in Contact. Washington DC: Gallaudet University Press. pp. 195–234. ISBN 978-1-56368-356-5. 
  2. ^ Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Albanian Sign Language". Glottolog. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology.