Talk:List of sign languages

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Ugh, they need to come up with a signal International Sign Language[edit]

There is a minority of deaf people, and those able to practiCe sign language and to have sooo many variants will only hinder the amalgamation and cooperation of the deaf community and affiliated institutions.


Gestuno. — kwami (talk) 07:52, 24 February 2011 (UTC)


There is an official sign language of norway, called NSL (Norwegian sign language).

After fact checking I added NSL to the list for whoever left this comment Qaz 17:19, 23 August 2005 (UTC)


Are there sign language families? It would be interesting to see such a list. -Branddobbe 07:45, 25 December 2005 (UTC)

Very little research has been done on sign language families, compared to spoken language families. See language family#Sign languages. As with spoken languages, a sign language variety is called a "dialect", "language" or even "family" (see BANZSL) for political reasons as much as linguistic ones. However, there's more research out there than has been published on wikipedia, and i would love to see it all available here. Any takers? If there's interest, i'd be keen to start a Sign language WikiProject. ntennis 01:09, 26 December 2005 (UTC)
I'm a potential taker for the WikiProject. --Jadriaen 17:33, 26 December 2005 (UTC)
OK. I've made a rough draft project page at User:Ntennis/Deaf WikiProject proposal. I've also put a note on Wikipedia:Wikiproject/List of proposed projects where you can add your name if interested. Personally I think we need quite a bit more interest for this project to be viable, but this proposal might generate some. Look forward to collaborating. :) ntennis 02:33, 4 January 2006 (UTC)

Would it be possible to group sign languages that are known in modern history to have evolved from each other? For instance, ASL + FSL under OFSL? I mean, even in the early years of linguistics, they knew that French Spanish and Italian were related, and that German was not the same relation. Having a list of known Sign Language families on this page would certainly be great. (For instance, we can immediately place Nicaraguan Sign Language as an Isolate, because it spontaneously appeared within very modern history, more so even within the era of treating sign languages as true languages.) --Puellanivis 22:16, 18 October 2006 (UTC)

Plains Indian sign language?[edit]

I'm having a hard time finding info on Plains Indian sign language (I think that's the most common name). Is there a reason it's not listed here? It's an important part of Americans' pop concept of Native Americans (Google's best language reference is a Boy Scouts' "Indian" dictionary, here), but how much of it is actual? What was its influence on ASL? --ESP 05:30, 17 January 2006 (UTC)

Plains Indian sign language is not listed because noone has put it there yet. It belongs in the "auxiliary sign systems" section. It is real, though I can't verify the actual signs given in the scouts page you linked. PISL apparently had little if any influence on ASL, which is largely OFSL-based; see the ASL talk page Talk:American Sign Language#ASL and native American sign languages and Talk:American Sign Language#Comment on Several Topics. ntennis 05:40, 17 January 2006 (UTC)
OK. I put it there and made a stub at Plains Indian Sign Language. --ESP 05:52, 17 January 2006 (UTC)


What sign language(s) are used in the Sarajevo Deaf community?--Sonjaaa 20:37, 20 February 2006 (UTC)

Presumably Yugoslav Sign Language, whatever they happen to call it today, just as in the rest of the former Yugoslavia. — kwami (talk) 07:59, 24 February 2011 (UTC)

Quebec Sign Language (LSQ)[edit]

...was in the "Europe" subsection, I corrected it so that it be in the "Americas" subsection. 03:02, 23 February 2006 (UTC)Émilie.


Turkey isn't in the middle east, it's partly in Europe and partly in Asia, so it shouldn't be in the middle east section.

...The Middle East is part of Asia. "Middle East, Central Asia, East Asia" Which one would Turkey fall under? Middle East!

-G —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk) 04:30, 5 April 2007 (UTC).

how many sign languages?[edit]

what is a rough estimate of the number of sign langugaes existing in the world?--Sonjaaa 04:06, 8 August 2007 (UTC)

Hum, I came to this talk page to ask the same question. I knew, there were many sign languages around, but when I looked at Ban Khor Sign Language and read, that there are seven sign languages in Thailand alone, I really was astonished. So perhaps my post here can attract some new attention to this old question. --::Slomox:: >< 01:16, 7 January 2008 (UTC)

No-one knows. Tanzania has seven schools for the deaf, and each has a separate sign language. Sri Lanka has 14 schools, and potentially 14 languages. Because hearing parents of deaf children generally do not teach their children language, when deaf schools are established that do not use an existing sign language (as in the case of Tanzania or Nicaragua, where only oral language was used), the children of each school create a new language of their own. No-one knows how many times this has happened. Similar things happen in communities with high levels of congenital deafness. It's quite difficult to trace influences which may exist between such communities, or between schools, unless there are historical records of, say, Irish nuns introducing ISL to a school (and even then it is likely that ISL would be an overlay atop an indigenous SL).

Given this, but also that some countries share SLs, I'd make a rough guess that the number of SLs in on the order of the number of countries, say ≈200. Ethnologue lists 130, though some are not independent languages (Croatian and Serbian, Indian and Pakistani, Flemish and Walloon), while others are not single langs (Tanzanian, Sri Lankan, Australian), and others are not listed (Tijuana). — kwami (talk) 08:13, 24 February 2011 (UTC)

FWIW, Ethnologue lists 137 (I think that's the current number) because that's how many sign languages are recognized in ISO 639-3. (So, when we're talking about numbers of languages or other issues of language identification, Ethnologue is not an independent source from ISO 639-3, except in cases where Ethnologue may mention the possible existence of other sign languages not yet in the standard, or substantial variation within what is currently regarded by the standard as one language.) As this article shows, however, there are many more than what is recognized in ISO 639-3. Personally, I'm a little more adventurous than kwami, and would place the number of sign languages at more than one per country (maybe an average of 3), as it seems like there are a lot of village sign languages popping up in recent years, and I've also seen how estimates of the number of spoken languages grew from around 500-1000 in the 1930s to almost 7000 now. But, I'm comfortable with the current estimate in the article (~300), especially since it is surrounded by an explanation that nobody knows and explanations why. AlbertBickford (talk) 22:41, 26 January 2015 (UTC)

List of sign languages by total number of speakers[edit]

People want to see a list of languages by total number of speakers for sign languages. Jidanni (talk) 18:03, 13 December 2012 (UTC)

Not possible. We don't even know how many speakers American Sign Language has. — kwami (talk) 01:20, 10 February 2013 (UTC)

Many references just deleted[edit]

I note that many references (generally URL's) were just deleted by editor Kwamikagami. Since such references, if they are live links, are valuable, I am not sure why deleting them is a good idea. Should they be restored? Pete unseth (talk) 15:04, 9 February 2013 (UTC)

I made a random routine check of just two deletions with the following results:
  • Jamaican Country Sign Language: A referencing link to the identification source of JCSL on the site of the University of Central Lancashire was deleted because the link exists already in the main article on JCSL.
  • Afgan Sign Language: A SIL request to the ISO Registration Authority[1] was deleted and replaced by a link to the resulting code change on the SIL site[2].
You would have to check those deletions one by one to determine to what extent they are justified. Thanks. Best, Eklir (talk) 20:52, 9 February 2013 (UTC)
I was the one who added most of those in the first place. There were here to prove the languages existed, because we didn't have articles yet, and to provide sources for creating those articles. Now that we have dedicated articles, we no longer need the refs here.
I also added several new refs for remaining red links. — kwami (talk) 01:17, 10 February 2013 (UTC)
I suspected that and that's why I did a random routine check. Best, Eklir (talk) 01:24, 10 February 2013 (UTC)

Somali Sign Language[edit]

SoSL ---> LIS -> LSF -> BSL --SurdusVII (talk) 08:47, 31 August 2013 (UTC)


Hawai'i is listed under Asia and not America. Any particular reason for that? — Preceding unsigned comment added by Stubborn Myth (talkcontribs) 05:26, 21 September 2013 (UTC)

Great article but it's missing 'prison sign'[edit]

This is an amazingly well informed article on sign languages, but it's missing one. When I was in prison we used a language to sign to people we could see but not hear - like in the cafeteria when you see someone across the room and needed to quickly convey (or pass on) a message. I knew it was different from ASL because my wife had taught me some, and this wasn't the same. Just like ASL though, it had letters as well as words. Some of it I could tell came from gang signs, but not much. I'm positive that something similar is used in most prisons across America (if not the world). Sorry I can't help out with more info, but I'll come back and check this page soon. I didn't add it to the article because I don't feel like I know enough about this language since I only used it for a few months. Rich M. (talk) 16:33, 24 September 2013 (UTC)

Two questions: Could you hold a conversation in it, or was it limited to rudimentary messages? Is is common across prisons, or different in each one? — kwami (talk) 23:09, 24 September 2013 (UTC)
Kwami has brought up a very important point: is prison sign a true language, or just a basic signalling system? For example, can users of prison sign communicate (not just by spelling) an abstract sentence like "I hope that the people I have hurt will forgive me"? If so, then it is a language. Otherwise, such a system is not a true language. Pete unseth (talk) 00:17, 25 September 2013 (UTC)

Yiddish Sign Language[edit]

There is an ISO 639-3 code yds for Yiddish Sign Language, so we cannot dismiss it without some investigation. I will take it upon myself to contact the ISO 639-3 people and see what evidence, if any, they have in their files. If they have solid evidence, I will summarize it here, then we can simply keep Yiddish Sign Language in this list. If they have no solid evidence, then we can delete it here and I will also file a change request with ISO 639-3, asking them to delete Yiddish Sign Language. So, in the meantime, I gently ask that Yiddish Sign Language be retained in the list for a couple of weeks while I check it out. I hope this is reasonable. Pete unseth (talk) 12:24, 4 October 2013 (UTC)

Hi Pete. I emailed you about this. — kwami (talk) 00:54, 5 October 2013 (UTC)
As of January 2015, yds as the code for Yiddish Sign Language has been retired by ISO 639-3, on the grounds that there is no evidence that it ever existed. See references on the Spurious languages page. AlbertBickford (talk) 22:29, 26 January 2015 (UTC)

(Corrected link) AlbertBickford (talk) 20:24, 18 February 2015 (UTC)


Thsi needs to add Bhutanese Sign Language the Country of Bhutan's local sign alngauge that they have there which may have influences from Tibet and possibly nepal or india among their local signing from education, home sign and some interaction among the Deaf.

I was under the impression that there were more native american sign languages

and what do we display about dead sign languages?

(regarding whatever that guy said about int'l sign. gestuno is an undead sign language. (perhaps he's not experience being Deaf enough to understand how the multiple levels of visual communication work?) (more than pidgin, signing exact, gesture, and different degrees of linguistic complexity of both lexicon & grammar.), Deaf can communicate visually thru the different levels of their sign. and their grammar and phonology will be different no matter what. (and their visual comprehension both liberates them into visual communication, yet doesn't necessitate having the same visual understandings.) it's like trying to force people to stop being local. quit having accents or creating new local vocab or exclusivising things. and it's belligerent to the fact of how our language and cultural linguistics and needs are diverse and it is among the still persistent connectedness that can be achieved despite and due to the differences challenging us. p.s. gestures across the world will persist so we can't expect one world sign language to be acting against their locality. p.s. humans, (foremost being the Deaf) are local, person to person, (despite infinitesimal number of tech advances delusions.)) (talk) 23:01, 26 November 2014 (UTC) chuckdub

Provide a WP:RS for Bhutanese SL, and we'll add it -- and create an article. — kwami (talk) 00:06, 19 February 2015 (UTC)
Found some minimal info, barely enough to confirm that it exists. Created stub. — kwami (talk) 03:10, 19 February 2015 (UTC)

What should be done about extinct sign languages?[edit]

Such extinct deaf sign languages as Martha's Vineyard Sign Language have been deleted? Is there a way to properly include them in this article? Pete unseth (talk) 18:30, 26 January 2015 (UTC)

They haven't been deleted. — kwami (talk) 00:03, 19 February 2015 (UTC)

Add ISO 639-3 codes?[edit]

I wonder if it would help if we add a column to these tables for a language's ISO 639-3 code, when it has one. It seems rather odd that when we use those codes in so many places in WP, we haven't used them here. Of course, a lot of sign languages don't have ISO codes, but this will be one way of calling attention to that fact. BTW, I have a readily-available list, already sorted by continent and language name, so it would be fairly easy for me to do this. In other words, if others agree, I'm happy to be the one to do the grunt-work. Ping me if you have comments. AlbertBickford (talk) 23:11, 26 January 2015 (UTC)

Not sure I see the point. We used to use ISO codes in a lot of family articles, and this page, because we didn't have individual articles on the languages. I've been removing them as language articles were created. Other editors have been removing them too; the lack of objection over several years constitutes silent consensus. The only place I can think of where we still use them is spurious language (because many of those "languages" still do not have articles) and in the list of artificial languages that mentions Kotava and Romanova, whose articles have been deleted as not notable. If we restore them here, why not add them to thousands of family articles? I don't see any advantage in doing that. — kwami (talk) 00:11, 19 February 2015 (UTC)
OK, I didn't know about that history. I'm fine with leaving them out. AlbertBickford (talk) 03:30, 19 February 2015 (UTC)

Tijuana Sign Language[edit]

(Continuing the discussion #how many sign languages?) ...and about the existence of "Tijuana Sign Language": as far as I know, that was a pure mistake in Ethnologue based on hearsay. In a letter to the Ethnologue editor (Barbara Grimes) in the mid-1980s, I mentioned that a Deaf colleague of mine had told me that the sign language in Tijuana was "different". I was surprised when the next edition of Ethnologue included "Tijuana Sign Language". I objected that there was no reliable evidence that such a language existed, and it was then taken out of a subsequent edition. But, unless someone has come up with better evidence than that it appeared once in Ethnologue, it should be regarded as spurious. AlbertBickford (talk) 22:41, 26 January 2015 (UTC)
(BTW, one of the positive benefits of Ethnologue depending on ISO 639-3 is that these sorts of misunderstandings and mistakes no longer happen.)
Looking further, I see that Tijuana Sign Language is in this list and it has its own article. However, the only sources cited in its article are ones that are not (in this case) independent of Ethnologue. So, this seems to have been a scholarly mistake (that sadly I had a role in, although I won't claim it as *my* mistake) that persists despite the fact that it has been corrected by the original source. I recommend:
    • Tijuana Sign Language be added to the Spurious Languages page.
    • Tijuana Sign Language be deleted from this list
    • The article on Tijuana Sign Language be recommended for deletion, and replaced by a redirect pointing to Spurious Languages.
Before I do so, I want @Kwami: to comment, in case he knows of any better sources. AlbertBickford (talk) 22:50, 26 January 2015 (UTC), revised AlbertBickford (talk) 23:03, 26 January 2015 (UTC), corrected links AlbertBickford (talk) 20:28, 18 February 2015 (UTC)
Sounds good, if you can explain Wittmann (1991). Was he just guessing, based on TSL's appearance in Ethn? I've noticed that Wittmann did not seem very reliable, but if he was making claims like that on such poor data, we really need to be careful using him. (Though he did liberally sprinkle his claim with question marks.)
We should also review incoming links. Most will be from the template, which I'll edit now, so we can see if any remain. (It can take a while for 'what links here' to update.) Deleted from Deaf-community sign language, Mexican Sign Language, Languages of Mexico. FYI in case we need to restore it.
[Yikes! I just looked at our Wittmann article, and the supposed Seselwa French creole with an "exotic Bantu-like look" was Swahili! And the error's been there since 2007.] — kwami (talk) 00:25, 19 February 2015 (UTC)
Okay, looks like it only remains here and at sign language, under a summary of Wittmann. — kwami (talk) 03:20, 19 February 2015 (UTC)
BTW, you don't need to recommend the TSL article for deletion. If you're comfortable with contradicting Wittmann, then just change it to a redirect. — kwami (talk) 03:25, 19 February 2015 (UTC)
Response to @Kwami:: With regard to Wittmann (1991), I have only recently learned enough French to read the paper, and haven't done any more than skim it yet, so I can't comment on its reliability overall. But, I note that its only mention of Tijuana Sign Language gives no references other than Ethnologue (1988), so I'm guessing that's the only information he had at his disposal. Further, the only piece of information that didn't come from Ethnologue was the label "Prototype", which doesn't tell a whole lot. So, in this case, I'd say this reference provides no support to the existence of such a language.
Now, knowing the nature of the border region, it is possible that there is some creolization going on between ASL and LSM in Tijuana, but as far as I know (and I'm in regular contact with people who research LSM), no linguist has actually gone there to check it out. So, I'm not saying that there isn't a distinct variety of sign language there, but simply that the available evidence provides no support for a claim that such a language exists, and hence it shouldn't be included in Wikipedia except as a spurious language.
I'm afraid I don't know how to change the TSL article to a redirect; can you point me to instructions? Or, if you just want to do it, that's fine with me. AlbertBickford (talk) 03:28, 19 February 2015 (UTC)
I did add TSL to the spurious languages page, but had to add a new section to do it. Feel free to do something else if you want. AlbertBickford (talk) 03:42, 19 February 2015 (UTC)
I'm merging the sections, because TSL appears in Wikipedia:WikiProject Languages/Primary language names in Ethnologue 11. Or, is that actually the list from Ethnologue 10? My source wasn't too clear. (If so, we can put it in a section for removed from the 11th ed.) — kwami (talk) 06:02, 19 February 2015 (UTC)
I don't actually have a copy to check, but if 1992 was the 12th ed., then 1988 would have been 11th ed., I'm pretty sure. And, I'm almost certain that 1988 was the first edition that listed sign languages at all. So, what you did is right. I just wasn't thinking straight. AlbertBickford (talk) 18:51, 19 February 2015 (UTC)

Korean and Argentine Sign Langauges[edit]

There were recent edits that linked Korean Sign Language and Argentine Sign Language. Is this vandalism? Or is this a surprising historical link? Pete unseth (talk) 21:08, 2 June 2015 (UTC)

From what I know about those two languages, I would be *very* surprised if there was any historical connection. Korean Sign Language has a lot of things in common with other East Asian sign languages, and Argentine has commonalities with Paraguay, Chile, and Uruguay, but what I've seen of Paraguayan SL looks nothing like Japanese, Korean, or Chinese. So, I'm guessing vandalism, or someone who doesn't know what they're talking about. At a minimum, let's challenge it as unsourced. AlbertBickford (talk) 19:19, 3 June 2015 (UTC)
OIC, it's already been reverted. Fine--once I looked at the actual changes, they looked more like vandalism. AlbertBickford (talk) 19:19, 3 June 2015 (UTC)