Icelandic Sign Language

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Icelandic Sign Language
Íslenskt Táknmál
Native to Iceland
Native speakers
250–300 (2010–2014)[1]
French Sign
Language codes
ISO 639-3 icl
Glottolog icel1236[2]

The Icelandic sign language (íslenskt táknmál) is the sign language of the deaf community in Iceland. It is based on the Danish Sign Language; until 1910, deaf Icelandic people were sent to school in Denmark, but the languages have diverged since then. It is officially recognized by the state and regulated by a national committee.

Icelandic Sign Language is distinct from spoken Icelandic; in 1999, the Icelandic Ministry of Education stated that, in the Icelandic basic curriculum, Icelandic Sign Language is the first language of deaf people, while spoken Icelandic is a second language. Therefore, deaf Icelanders should learn Icelandic Sign Language as their first language and Icelandic as their second language.

Táknmál is the Icelandic language word meaning "Sign Language."

For more information on the recognition of Icelandic Sign Language and the comparison with other countries, see Legal recognition of sign languages.

A lexical comparison of signs from Icelandic Sign Language with their counterparts in Danish Sign Language was undertaken (Aldersson 2006) to try to determine the degree of current lexical similarity. It was found that whilst the two sign languages are certainly related, 37% of signs analysed were completely different in structure and a further 16%, whilst similar, still contrasted in one of the four parameters of hand-configuaration, location, movement or orientation.

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External links[edit]


  1. ^ Icelandic Sign Language at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Icelandic Sign Language". Glottolog. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. 

Sign Language Studies | October 1, 2008 | Aldersson, Russell R; McEntee-Atalianis, Lisa J | 700+ words