Maritime Sign Language

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Maritime Sign Language (MSL)
Langue des Signes Maritime
MSL Name.png
Native toCanada
RegionAtlantic Canada
Native speakers
  • Maritime Sign Language (MSL)
Official status
Official language in
Recognised minority
language in
Language codes
ISO 639-3nsr
US & Canada sign-language map (excl. ASL and LSQ).png
  Maximum historical range of Maritime Sign Language among other sign languages in the US and Canada (excl. ASL and LSQ).

Maritime Sign Language (MSL), is a sign language descended from British Sign Language and used in Canada's Atlantic provinces.[2] It was created through the convergence of deaf communities from the Northeastern United States and the United Kingdom immigrating to Canada throughout the 1700s and 1800s.[3] It is unknown the extent to which this language is spoken today, though there are linguistic communities found across the Atlantic provinces. MSL is being supplanted by American Sign Language (ASL) resulting in fewer MSL speakers and a lack of resources (education, interpretation, etc.) for MSL speakers.

The dialect of ASL currently used in the Maritimes exhibits some lexical influence from MSL. ASL is now the main language that is used by the Deaf community in Newfoundland, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island. Due to the expansion of ASL, there are fewer than 100 MSL users.[3]


  1. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Maritime Sign Language". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  2. ^ Gordon, Raymond G., Jr. (ed.) (2005). Ethnologue: Languages of the World, Fifteenth edition. Dallas, Tex.: SIL International.CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link) CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link)
  3. ^ a b Yoel, Judith. "Canada's Maritime Sign Language". endangeredlanguages. Retrieved 10 February 2017.