Northern Ireland Sign Language

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Northern Ireland Sign Language
Teanga Chomharthaíochta Thuaisceart Éireann
Native toIreland and United Kingdom
RegionNorthern Ireland
Native speakers
"BSL" is the native or preferred language of 3,500 in Northern Ireland (2007)[1]
BANZSL Family. Emerging from British, Irish, and American Sign.
  • Northern Ireland Sign Language
Language codes
ISO 639-3

Northern Ireland Sign language (NISL) is a sign language used mainly by deaf people in Northern Ireland.

NISL is described as being related to Irish Sign Language (ISL) at the syntactic level while the lexicon is based on British Sign Language (BSL)[2] and American Sign Language (ASL).[citation needed]

A number of practitioners see Northern Ireland Sign Language as a distinct and separate language from both BSL and ISL though "many 'Anglo-Irish'[further explanation needed] Northern Irish signers argue against the use of the acronym NISL and believe that while their variety is distinct, it is still a part of British Sign Language."[2]

As of March 2004 the British Government recognises only British Sign Language and Irish Sign Language as the official sign languages used in Northern Ireland.[1][3]

BANZSL family tree
Old British Sign Language
(c. 1760–1900)
Maritime SL
(c. 1860–present)
Swedish SL family?
(c. 1800–present)
Papua NG SL
(c. 1990–present)
(c. 1860–present)
New Zealand SL
(c. 1870–present)
British SL
(c. 1900–present)
N. Ireland SL
(c. 1920–present)
South African SL
(c. 1860–present)


  1. ^ a b "Sign Language". Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure. Archived from the original on 2011-01-09. Retrieved 2011-01-31.
  2. ^ a b Janzen, Terry (2005). Topics in Signed Language Interpreting: Theory And Practice. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Company. pp. 256 & 265. ISBN 90-272-1669-X. OCLC 60742155. Retrieved 2008-06-22.
  3. ^ "Paul Murphy announces recognition for sign language". Northern Ireland Office. 2004-03-30. Archived from the original on 2011-05-20. Retrieved 2011-01-31. I am pleased to announce formal recognition for both British and Irish Sign Languages in Northern Ireland.