Arab sign-language family

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Arab sign language
Mideast, North Africa
Linguistic classification: One of the world's sign language families
Glottolog: arab1398[1]

The Arab sign-language family is a family of sign languages spread across the Arab Mideast. Its extent is not yet known, because only some of the sign languages in the region have been compared.

A project for a single Arabic Sign Language is underway, with much of the vocabulary voted on by regional Deaf associations. However, so far only a dictionary has been compiled; grammar has not been addressed, so the result cannot be considered a language.

Among the national sign languages which may be related are the following:

Other languages of the region appear to not be related. Moroccan Sign Language derives from American Sign Language, and Tunisian Sign Language from Italian Sign Language. There are numerous local Sudanese sign languages which are not even related to each other, and there are many other Arab village sign languages in the region, such as Al-Sayyid Bedouin Sign Language and Ghardaia Sign Language, which are not related to the national languages.


  1. ^ Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Arab Sign". Glottolog. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. 
  • Al-Fityani, K. (2007). Arab Sign Languages: A lexical comparison. Center for Research in Language Technical Reports, 19(1), 3-13.
  • Al-Fityani, K., & Padden, C. 2010. Sign Language geography in the Arab world. In D. Brentari (Ed.), Sign languages: A Cambridge Survey, 433-450. New York: Cambridge University Press.
  • Hendriks, Bernadet, 2008. Jordanian Sign Language: aspects of grammar from a cross-linguistic perspective (dissertation)[1]
  • Padden, Carol. 2010. "Sign Language Geography", in Mathur & Napoli, eds, Deaf around the World, Gallaudet