Brazilian Sign Language

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
"Libras" redirects here. For other uses, see Libra (disambiguation).
Brazilian Sign Language
Native to Brazil and Brazilian diaspora
Region Urban areas
Native speakers
3 million (no date)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3 bzs
Glottolog braz1236[3]

Brazilian Sign Language (BSL), also known as "Libras" (Portuguese pronunciation: [ˈlibɾɐs], from "ngua Brasileira de Sinais" [ˈlĩɡwɐ bɾaziˈlejɾɐ dʒi siˈnajs]) and variously abbreviated as LSB, LGB or LSCB (Brazilian Cities Sign Language),[4] is the sign language used by deaf communities of urban Brazil.

Recognition and status[edit]

Brazilian Sign Language is well-established; several dictionaries, instructional videos and a number of articles on the linguistic features of the language have been published. It has dialects across Brazil reflecting regional and sociocultural differences.

A strong sign language law was passed by the National Congress of Brazil on April 24, 2002, and (in 2005) is in the process of being implemented.[5] The law mandates the use of Brazilian Sign Language in education and government services.

Educational approaches has evolved from oralism to Total Communication and bilingualism.


BSL fingerspelling uses a one-handed manual alphabet similar to that used by the French Sign Language family.[6]

There are 44 distinct handshapes used in the language.[4]

Deaf and sign language organizations[edit]

The most important deaf organization is FENEIS, the Federação Nacional de Educação e Integração dos Surdos (National Federation of Deaf Education and Integration). There are a number of regional organizations in Curitiba, Caxias do Sul and Rio Grande do Sul.


Wittmann (1991)[7] posits that Brazilian Sign Language is a language isolate (a 'prototype' sign language), though one developed through stimulus diffusion from an existing sign language, likely Portuguese Sign Language and/or French Sign Language.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Brazilian Sign Language at Ethnologue (17th ed., 2013)
  2. ^ Wittmann, Henri (1991). "Classification linguistique des langues signées non vocalement." Revue québécoise de linguistique théorique et appliquée 10:1.215–88.[1]
  3. ^ Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Brazilian Sign Language". Glottolog. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. 
  4. ^ a b Ferreira-Brito, Lucinda and Langevin, Rémi (1994), The Sublexical Structure of a Sign Language, Mathématiques, Informatique et Sciences Humaines 32:125, 1994, pp. 17–40
  5. ^ LIBRAS law (in Portuguese)
  6. ^ LIBRAS manual alphabet
  7. ^ Wittmann, Henri (1991). "Classification linguistique des langues signées non vocalement." Revue québécoise de linguistique théorique et appliquée 10:1.215–88.[2]


  • Gama, Flausine José da Costa: Iconographia dos Signaes dos Surdos-Mudos.[Iconography of Signs for the Deaf-Mute]. Rio de Janeiro : E.+H.Laemmert 1875
  • Capovilla, F. C., and W. D. Raphael, eds. 2001. Dicionário enciclopédico ilustrado trilíngüe da Língua de Sinais Brasileira: Vols. 1 (Sinais de A a L) & 2 (Sinais de M a Z). [Trilingual illustrated encyclopedic dictionary of Brazilian Sign Language, Vols. 1 and 2] São Paulo: Edusp, FAPESP, Fundação Vitae, Feneis, Brasil Telecom. Volume One: ISBN 85-314-0600-5 Volume Two: ISBN 85-314-0603-X
  • Xavier, André Nogueira and Sherman Wilcox. 2014. Necessity and possibility modals in Brazilian Sign Language (Libras). Linguistic Typology 18(3): 449 – 488.

External links[edit]