Jamaican Country Sign Language

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Jamaican Country Sign Language
Country Sign, Konchri Sain Language
Native toJamaica
Native speakers
40 (2009)[1]
Official status
Regulated byNot Regulated
Language codes
ISO 639-3jcs

Jamaican Country Sign Language, also Country Sign, or Konchri Sain (KS) in Jamaican Patois, is an indigenous village sign language of Jamaica. It is used by a small number of Deaf and hearing Jamaicans, spread over several communities in the rural south-western parish of St. Elizabeth.[3]

The introduction of formal education for the St. Elizabeth deaf in 1975 by American Mennonite missionaries introduced two additional signed systems which have negatively affected KS: Signed English and American Sign Language.[4][5] School officials strongly discouraged the use of the language inside and outside the classroom, resulting in a significant reduction in the number of fluent KS signers and a dramatic decline in the language's prestige.[6] Thus, currently, KS is used primarily by elderly monolingual Deaf community members, while other community members use Jamaican Sign Language, a dialect of American Sign Language.[7]

A recent sociolinguistic survey reports that there are currently forty deaf adult KS signers on the island.[8] The language will become extinct in the next twenty to thirty years, if deliberate effort is not taken to save it by means of an effective language planning strategy. Already, the University of the West Indies in conjunction with the University of Central London has begun working on a language documentation project for the language.[9]


  1. ^ Parks, Epley, et al., (2011:10)
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Jamaican Country Sign Language". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. ^ Cumberbatch (2012:387)
  4. ^ Cumberbatch (2012:387)
  5. ^ Dolman (1985:15)
  6. ^ ibid
  7. ^ ibid
  8. ^ Parks, Epley, et al., (2011:10)
  9. ^ Zeshan (2007:271)


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