List of sign languages

There are perhaps three hundred sign languages in use around the world today. The number is not known with any confidence; new sign languages emerge frequently through creolization and de novo (and occasionally through language planning). In some countries, such as Sri Lanka and Tanzania, each school for the deaf may have a separate language, known only to its students and sometimes denied by the school; on the other hand, countries may share sign languages, although sometimes under different names (Croatian and Serbian, Indian and Pakistani). Deaf sign languages also arise outside educational institutions, especially in village communities with high levels of congenital deafness, but there are significant sign languages developed for the hearing as well, such as the speech-taboo languages used in aboriginal Australia. Scholars are doing field surveys to identify the world's sign languages.[1][2][3][4]

The following list is grouped into three sections :

  • Deaf sign languages, which are the preferred languages of Deaf communities around the world; these include village sign languages, shared with the hearing community, and Deaf-community sign languages
  • Auxiliary sign languages, which are not native languages but sign systems of varying complexity, used alongside spoken languages. Simple gestures are not included, as they do not constitute language.
  • Signed modes of spoken languages, also known as manually coded languages, which are bridges between signed and spoken languages

The list of deaf sign languages is sorted regionally and alphabetically, and such groupings should not be taken to imply any genetic relationships between these languages (see List of language families).[5]

Sign language list

Contemporary deaf sign languages

Africa

There are at least 25 sign languages in Africa, according to researcher Nobutaka Kamei.[6][7][8] Some have distributions that are completely independent of those of African spoken languages. At least 13 foreign sign languages, mainly from Europe and America, have been introduced to at least 27 African nations; some of the 23 sign languages documented by Kamei have originated with or been influenced by them.

Language Origin[9] Notes
Adamorobe Sign Language village sign (ADS) (Ghana)
Algerian Sign Language French
Bamako Sign Language local deaf community used by adult men. Threatened by ASL.
Bura Sign Language village in Nigeria
Burkina Sign Language local[10] Ouagadougou (Langue des Signes Mossi)
Chadian Sign Language ASL:Nigerian?
Dogon Sign Language local? village?
Eritrean Sign Language artificial
Ethiopian sign languages 1 million signers of an unknown number of languages
Francophone African Sign Language ASL & spoken French The development of ASL in Francophone West Africa
Gambian Sign Language ASL
Ghanaian Sign Language ASL (GSE)
Guinean Sign Language ASL
Guinea-Bissau Sign Language local incipient/basic
Hausa Sign Language local "Maganar Hannu" (HSL) – Northern Nigeria (Kano State)
Kenyan Sign Language local? (KSL or LAK)
Libyan Sign Language Arab?
Malagasy Sign Language French:Danish:Norwegian (or "Madagascan Sign Language") May be a dialect of Norwegian SL
Mauritian Sign Language isolate
Moroccan Sign Language ASL
Mozambican Sign Language
Mbour Sign Language local M'Bour, Senegal
Namibian Sign Language Paget-Gorman
Nanabin Sign Language village a deaf family in Nanabin, Ghana
Nigerian Sign Language ASL
Rwandan Sign Language ?
Sierra Leonean Sign Language ASL
Somali Sign Language Kenyan SL
South African Sign Language Irish & British (SASL)
Sudanese sign languages village & local? Government proposal to unify local languages
Tanzanian sign languages local (seven independent languages, one for each deaf school in Tanzania, with little mutual influence)
Tebul Sign Language village (Tebul Ure SL) Mopti, Mali (village of Tebul Ure)
Tunisian Sign Language French:Italian
Ugandan Sign Language local? (USL)
Yoruba Sign Language local (YSL)
Zambian Sign Language (ZASL)
Zimbabwean sign languages "sign language" is an official language

Americas

Language Origin Notes
American Sign Language United States (ASL)
Argentine Sign Language Spain and Italy (Lengua de Señas Argentina - LSA)
Bolivian Sign Language ASL "Lenguaje de Señas Bolivianas" (LSB)
Brazilian Sign Language French Libras (Lingua Brasileira de Sinais)[11]
Recognized legally as a means of communication among the Brazilian Deaf community.[12]
Bribri Sign Language village?
Brunca Sign Language village?
Chatino Sign Language village
Chilean Sign Language French? Lenguaje de Señas Chileno (LSCH)
Colombian Sign Language (CSN) / Lengua de Señas Colombiana (LSC)
Costa Rican Sign Language at least 4 languages in Costa Rica (Woodward 1991)
Old Costa Rican Sign Language
Cuban Sign Language
Dominican Sign Language ASL
Ecuadorian Sign Language
Greenlandic Sign Language Danish "Kalaallisut Ussersuutit" (DTS)
Guatemalan Sign Language
Guyanese Sign Language ?
Honduras Sign Language Mexican? "Lengua de señas hondureña" (LESHO)
Inuit Sign Language village "Inuit Uqausiqatigiit Uukturausiq Uqajuittunut (General Inuit Sign Language for deaf)" also known as Inuiuuk (ᐃᓄᐃᐆᒃ)
There may be more than one. The indigenous languages is an isolate.
Jamaican Sign Language ASL (JSL)
Jamaican Country Sign Language local (JCSL)
Kajana Sign Language village Kajana Gebarentaal
Keresan Sign Language village (KPISL)
Maritime Sign Language British
Mayan Sign Language village
Mexican Sign Language French "Lengua de señas mexicana" (LSM)
Navajo Sign Language
Nicaraguan Sign Language local "Idioma de señas nicaragüense" (ISN)
Old Cayman Sign Language village gave rise to Providence Island SL?
Quebec Sign Language French-ASL mix "Langue des Signes Québécoise" (LSQ)
Panamanian Sign Language ASL, some Salvadoran influence "Lengua de señas panameñas"
Paraguayan Sign Language related to Uruguayan? "Lengua de Señas Paraguaya" (LSPy)
Peruvian Sign Language isolate "Lengua de señas peruana"
Plains Sign Language
Puerto Rican Sign Language ASL "Lengua se señas puertorriqueña"
Providence Island Sign Language village
Salvadoran Sign Language isolate
Trinidad and Tobago Sign Language isolate? ASL taught in schools; most deaf bilingual
Uruguayan Sign Language "Lengua de Señas Uruguaya"
Urubú Sign Language village (AKA Kaapor Sign Language)
Venezuelan Sign Language isolate "Lengua de señas venezolana" (LSV)

Asia/Pacific

Language Origin Notes
Afghan Sign Language indig, or ASL creole?
Alipur Sign Language village
Amami Oshima Sign Language village or idioglossia Japan
Auslan British (Australian Sign Language)
Ban Khor Sign Language village (Plaa Pag is a dialect)
Bhutanese Sign Language ?
Burmese sign language ASL may be two languages
Cambodian Sign Language = mixed LSF, BSL, ASL, various dialects within
Chinese Sign Language Chinese "中國手語" (ZGS)
Enga Sign Language village PNG
Ghandruk Sign Language village (Nepal)
Hawaiʻi Sign Language ?
Hong Kong Sign Language Shanghai Sign Language "香港手語" (HKSL). Derives from the southern dialect of CSL.
Huay Hai Sign Language village (Thailand) [no data]
Indo-Pakistani Sign Language Indian conflicting reports on whether Indian and Pakistani SL are one language or two.
Jakarta Sign Language ASL:Malaysian?:Indonesian a variety of Indonesian Sign Language
Japanese Sign Language Japanese "Nihon Shuwa (日本手話)" (JSL)
Jhankot Sign Language village (Nepal)
Jumla Sign Language village (Nepal)
Kata Kolok village (AKA Bali Sign Language, Benkala Sign Language)
Laotian Sign Language (related to Vietnamese languages; may be more than one SL)
Korean Sign Language "한국수어 (or 한국수화)" / "Hanguk Soo-hwa"
Macau Sign Language "澳門手語"
Malaysian Sign Language ASL "Bahasa Isyarat Malaysia" (BIM)
Miyakubo Sign Language village Japan
Mongolian Sign Language ? "Монгол дохионы хэл"
Na Sai Sign Language village (Thailand) [no data]
Naga Sign Language village? (India) last reported in 1921
Nepali Sign Language Indian Indigenous sign language with inputs from Indian Sign Language, American Sign Language, International Sign, and others
New Zealand Sign Language British (NZSL)
Old Bangkok Sign Language local (or village?)
Old Chiangmai Sign Language local (or village?)
Papua New Guinean Sign Language British
Penang Sign Language local (Malaysia)
Philippine Sign Language French (PSP)
Rennellese Sign Language home sign, not a full language (Solomon Islands)
Solomon Islands Sign Language
Samoan Sign Language Auslang
Selangor Sign Language ASL? (Malaysia)
Singapore Sign Language local A blend of ASL, SEE2, SSL and locally-developed signs.
Sri Lankan sign languages local (14 deaf schools with different languages)
Taiwanese Sign Language Japanese 臺灣手語 / Taiwan Ziran Shouyu
Tibetan Sign Language local
Thai Sign Language ASL (TSL) "แบบสะกดนิ้วมือไทย" (incl. Hai Yai)
Vietnamese sign languages local (Hanoi Sign Language, Ho Chi Minh Sign Language, Haiphong Sign Language; some may be related to some of the Thai languages)
Yogyakarta Sign Language ASL:Malaysian?:Indonesian a variety of Indonesian Sign Language
Yolŋu Sign Language local

Europe

Language Origin Notes
Albanian Sign Language "Gjuha e Shenjave Shqipe"
Armenian Sign Language isolate
Azerbaijani Sign Language French:Austro-Hungarian "Azərbaycan işarət dili" (AİD)
Austrian Sign Language French:Austro-Hungarian "Österreichische Gebärdensprache" (ÖGS)
British Sign Language British (BSL)
Bulgarian Sign Language French:Austro-Hungarian:Russian
Catalan Sign Language French? (or "Catalonian Sign Language") "Llengua de Signes Catalana" (LSC)
Croatian Sign Language French:Austro-Hungarian:Yugoslav (Croslan) "Hrvatski Znakovni Jezik" (HZJ)[13]
Czech Sign Language French:Austro-Hungarian "Český znakový jazyk" (CZJ)
Cypriot Sign Language ASL×GSL "Κυπριακή Νοηματική Γλώσσα" (CSL) [14]
Danish Sign Language French "Dansk Tegnsprog" (DTS)
Dutch Sign Language French "Nederlandse Gebarentaal" (NGT)
Estonian Sign Language "Eesti viipekeel"
Finnish Sign Language Swedish "Suomalainen viittomakieli" (SVK)
Finland-Swedish Sign Language Swedish "finlandssvenskt teckenspråk" (Swedish) or "suomenruotsalainen viittomakieli" (Finnish). A single Swedish school in Finland, now closed.
Flemish Sign Language Lyons?:Belgian "Vlaamse Gebarentaal" (VGT)
French Sign Language "Langues des Signes Française" (LSF)
Georgian Sign Language ? [1]
German Sign Language German "Deutsche Gebärdensprache" (DGS)
Greek Sign Language French-ASL mix "Ελληνική Νοηματική Γλώσσα" (GSL)
Hungarian Sign Language "Magyar jelnyelv"
Icelandic Sign Language French:Danish "Íslenskt Táknmál"
Irish Sign Language French "Teanga Chomharthaíochta na hÉireann" (ISL/ISG and TCÉ)
Italian Sign Language French "Lingua dei Segni Italiana" (LIS)
Kosovar Sign Language French:Austro-Hungarian:Yugoslav "Gjuha e Shenjave Kosovare" (GjShK)
Latvian Sign Language French "Latviešu Zīmju Valoda"
Lithuanian Sign Language "Lietuvių gestų kalba"
Lyons Sign Language isolate (or Lyons family)
Macedonian Sign Language ? Македонски знаковен јазик / Makedonski znakoven jazik
Maltese Sign Language "Lingwi tas-Sinjali Maltin" (LSM)
Northern Ireland Sign Language British (mixed)
Norwegian Sign Language French:Danish "Tegnspråk" (NSL)
Polish Sign Language Old-French, German "Polski Język Migowy" (PJM)
Portuguese Sign Language Swedish "Língua Gestual Portuguesa" (LGP)
Romanian Sign Language French "Limbaj Mimico-Gestual Românesc" (LMG)
Russian Sign Language French:Austro-Hungarian "Russkiy zhestovyi yazyk" / русский жестовый язык
Slovakian Sign Language "Slovenský posunkový jazyk"
Slovenian Sign Language French:Austro-Hungarian:Yugoslav "Slovenski znakovni jezik"
Spanish Sign Language isolate "Lengua de signos española" (LSE)
Swedish Sign Language Swedish "Svenskt teckenspråk" (TSP)
Swiss-French Sign Language French? "Langage Gestuelle"
Swiss-German Sign Language French? "Deutschschweizer Gebärdensprache" (DSGS)
Swiss-Italian Sign Language French?
Turkish Sign Language Isolate "Türk İşaret Dili" (TİD)
Ukrainian Sign Language French "Українська жестова мова (УЖМ)"
Valencian Sign Language "Llengua de Signes en la Comunitat Valenciana" (LSCV)
Walloon Sign Language Lyons?:Belgian "Langue des Signes de Belgique Francophone" (LSFB)
Yugoslav Sign Language French:Austro-Hungarian

Middle East

Language Origin Notes
Al-Sayyid Bedouin Sign Language village (ABSL), Negev
Central Taurus Sign Language village Turkey
Egyptian Sign Language Arab
Emirati Sign Language Arab
Ghardaia Sign Language village (Algerian Jewish Sign Language) deaf & hearing, Algeria → Israel
Iraqi Sign Language Arab العراقى مترجمي لغة الاشارة Perhaps close to Levantine.
Israeli Sign Language local שפת סימנים ישראלית
Jordanian Sign Language Arab, Levantine Lughat il-Ishaarah il-Urduniah / الاردنية مترجمي لغة الاشارة (LIU)
Kafr Qasem Sign Language Arab, village Kafr Qasim
Kurdish Sign Language local ZHK
Kuwaiti Sign Language Arab لغة الاشارة الكويتية
Lebanese Sign Language Arab, Levantine Lughat al-Isharat al-Lubnaniya / لغة الإشارات اللبنانية
Mardin Sign Language village one extended family in Turkey[15]
Omani Sign Language Arab?
Palestinian Sign Language Arab, Levantine "لغة الاشارات الفلسطينية"
Persian Sign Language
Qatari Unified Sign Language Arab?
Saudi Sign Language isolate "لغة الإشارة السعودية"
Seraglio Sign Language Ottoman court
Syrian Sign Language Arab, Levantine
Yemeni Sign Language Arab "لغة الإشارة اليمنية"

Historical deaf sign languages

Auxiliary sign languages

Manual modes of spoken languages

For a more extensive list see Manually Coded Language. This page lists only those MCLs with pages on Wikipedia.

Genetic classification of sign languages

Languages are assigned families (implying a genetic relationships between these languages) as British, Swedish (perhaps a branch of BSL), French (with branches ASL (American), Austro-Hungarian, Danish, Italian), German, Japanese, and language isolates.

See also

References

  1. ^ Woodward, James (1991), "The relationship of sign language varieties in India, Pakistan, and Nepal", Sign Language Studies, 78: 15–22.
  2. ^ Parkhurst, Stephen; Parkhurst, Dianne (1998), "Introduction to Sign Language survey", Notes on Sociolinguistics, 3: 215–42.
  3. ^ Ciupek-Reed, Julia (2012), Participatory methods in sociolinguistic sign language survey: A case study in El Salvador (PDF) (MA thesis), University of North Dakota.
  4. ^ Aldersson, Russell R; McEntee-Atalianis, Lisa J (2007), A Lexical Comparison of Icelandic Sign Language and Danish Sign Language, Studies in Applied Linguistics (2), Birkbeck.
  5. ^ For a classification, {(Citation | last = Wittmann | first = Henri | year = 1991 | title = Classification linguistique des langues signées non vocalement | language = fr | trans-title = Linguistic classification of non vocally signed languages | journal = Revue québécoise de linguistique théorique et appliquée |volume = 10 | number = 1 | page = 215–88 | url = http://www.nou-la.org/ling/1991a-class.pdf | format = PDF}).
  6. ^ Kamei, Nobutaka. The Birth of Langue des Signes Franco-Africaine: Creole ASL in West and Central French-speaking Africa, paper presented at Languages and Education in Africa (LEA), University of Oslo, June 19–22, 2006.
  7. ^ Kamei, Nobutaka (2004). The Sign Languages of Africa, "Journal of African Studies" (Japan Association for African Studies) Vol. 64, March, 2004. [NOTE: Kamei lists 23 African sign languages in this article].
  8. ^ "History of the deaf and sign languages in Africa" (in Japanese). Aacore. December 25, 2006.
  9. ^ "Africa - Sign Language". LibGuides. Gallaudet University Library. 2012-03-07. Retrieved 2012-05-21.
  10. ^ Diane Brentari, Sign Languages, p 406
  11. ^ "Structure of ASL and Libras". University of Connecticut. Retrieved 1 August 2015.
  12. ^ "Lei 10.436 de 24 de abril de 2002". Brazilian Government. Archived from the original on 10 September 2010. Retrieved 2018-02-07.
  13. ^ Pamela Perniss, Roland Pfau, Markus Steinbach; Visible Variation. Walter de Gruyter, 2007. (p.ix)
  14. ^ EUD. "European Union of the deaf: Cyprus". Eud.eu. Retrieved 2012-05-21.
  15. ^ "Mardin Sign Language". University of Central Lancashire. 2010-09-16. Retrieved 2012-05-21.

External links

Auslan

Auslan is the sign language of the Australian Deaf community. The term Auslan is a portmanteau of "Australian Sign Language", coined by Trevor Johnston in the early 1980s, although the language itself is much older. Auslan is related to British Sign Language (BSL) and New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL); the three have descended from the same parent language, and together comprise the BANZSL language family. Auslan has also been influenced by Irish Sign Language (ISL) and more recently has borrowed signs from American Sign Language (ASL).

As with other sign languages, Auslan's grammar and vocabulary is quite different from English. Its development cannot be attributed to any individual; rather, it is a natural language that developed organically over time.The number of people for whom Auslan is their primary or preferred language is difficult to determine. According to the 2001, 2006 and 2011 Censuses published by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the population of Auslan users in Australia has increased by 54.57% over the same time period thus debunking the speculation that Auslan is an endangered language. As of 2011, the Census population of Auslan users in Australia is 9723 - an increase of 4417 new users from the 2001 Census. Based on this statistical trajectory, it is expected that the number of people for whom Auslan is their primary or preferred language could exceed 12000 in the 2016 Census. Although the number is increasing, approximately 5% of all Auslan users are acquiring the language from their parents with the rest learning the language from other peers such as friends or colleagues later in life.

Comitato Giovani Sordi Italiani

The Comitato Giovani Sordi Italiani (CGSI) is an Italian non-governmental organization that acts as a peak body for national associations of Deaf people, with a focus on Deaf young people who use sign language and their family and friends. CGSI aims to promote the Human Rights of Deaf Youngs Italians, by working closely with the Italy. CGSI is also a member of the World Federation of the Deaf - Youth Section (WFDYS) and European Union of the Deaf Youth (EUDY).

Deaf-community sign language

A deaf-community sign language is a sign language that emerges when deaf people who do not have a common language come together and form a community. This may be a formal situation, such as the establishment of a school for the deaf, or informal, such as migration to cities for employment and the subsequent gathering of deaf people for social purposes.

An example of the first is Nicaraguan Sign Language, which emerged when deaf children in Nicaragua were brought together for the first time, and received only oral education; of the latter, Bamako Sign Language, which emerged among the tea circles of the uneducated deaf in the capital of Mali. Nicaraguan SL is now a language of instruction and is recognized as the national sign language; Bamako SL is not, and is threatened by the use of American Sign Language in schools for the deaf.

Deaf-community sign languages contrast with village sign language in that they tend to be used only by the deaf, at least at first, and most communication is between deaf people. Village sign languages, on the other hand, develop in relatively isolated areas with high incidences of congenital deafness, where most hearing people have deaf family, so that most signers are hearing. These differences have linguistic consequences. Urban deaf communities lack the common knowledge and social context that enables village signers to communicate without being verbally explicit. Deaf-community signers need to communicate with strangers, and therefore must be more explicit; it is thought this may have the effect of developing or at least speeding up the development of grammatical and other linguistic structures in the emerging language. For example, only deaf-community sign languages are known to make abstract and grammatical use of sign space. Both types of deaf sign language differ from speech-taboo languages such as the various Aboriginal Australian sign languages, which are developed by the hearing community and only used secondarily by the deaf, and are not independent languages.

Deaf-community languages may develop directly from home sign, or perhaps from idioglossic sign (in families with more than one deaf child), as was the case with Nicaraguan SL, or they may develop from village sign languages, as appears to have been at least partially the case with American SL, which arose in a school for the deaf where French Sign Language was the language of instruction, but seems to have derived largely from two or three village sign languages of the students.

Dutch Sign Language

Dutch Sign Language (Dutch: Nederlandse Gebarentaal or NGT; Sign Language of the Netherlands or SLN) is the sign language used by deaf people in the Netherlands and is not officially recognized. As of 1995, more and more schools for the deaf in The Netherlands teach Signed Dutch (Nederlands met Gebaren). This uses the grammar of Dutch rather than NGT.

NGT is not the same as Flemish Sign Language, and may not even be related to it.

Index of language articles

This is a partial index of 772 Wikipedia articles treating natural languages, arranged alphabetically.

For a published list of languages, see ISO 639-1 (list of ISO 639-1 codes for 136 major languages), or for a more inclusive list, see ISO 639-3 (list of ISO 639-3 codes, 7,874 in total as of June 2013). The enumeration of languages and dialects can easily be taken into the five-digit range; the Linguasphere Observatory has a database (LS-2010) with more than 32,800 coded entries and more than 70,900 linguistic names.

International Sign

International Sign (IS) is a pidgin sign language which is used in a variety of different contexts, particularly at international meetings such as the World Federation of the Deaf (WFD) congress, events such as the Deaflympics and the Miss & Mister Deaf World, and informally when travelling and socialising.

Many people consider International Sign as a universal sign language, but this is very hard to establish considering Ethnologue lists 142 different types of sign language.

Italian National Agency for the Deaf

The Italian National Agency for the protection and assistance of the Deaf (ENS) is an Italian non-governmental organization that acts as a peak body for national associations of Deaf people, with a focus on Deaf people who use sign language and their family and friends. ENS aims to promote the Human Rights of Deaf people italians, by working closely with the Italy. ENS is also a member of the World Federation of the Deaf (WFD) and European Union of the Deaf (EUD, 1985).

List of gestures

Gestures are a form of nonverbal communication in which visible bodily actions are used to communicate important messages, either in place of speech or together and in parallel with spoken words. Gestures include movement of the hands, face, or other parts of the body. Physical non-verbal communication such as purely expressive displays, proxemics, or displays of joint attention differ from gestures, which communicate specific messages. Gestures are culture-specific and can convey very different meanings in different social or cultural settings. Gesture is distinct from sign language. Although some gestures, such as the ubiquitous act of pointing, differ little from one place to another, most gestures do not have invariable or universal meanings but connote specific meanings in particular cultures. A single emblematic gesture can have very different significance in different cultural contexts, ranging from complimentary to highly offensive.This list includes links to pages that discuss particular gestures, as well as short descriptions of some gestures that do not have their own page. Not included are the specialized gestures, calls, and signals used by referees and umpires in various organized sports. Police officers also make gestures when directing traffic. Mime is an art form in which the performer utilizes gestures to convey a story. Charades is a game of gestures.

List of languages by number of native speakers

This article ranks human languages by their number of native speakers.

However, all such rankings should be used with caution, because it is not possible to devise a coherent set of linguistic criteria for distinguishing languages in a dialect continuum.

For example, a language is often defined as a set of varieties that are mutually intelligible, but independent national standard languages may be considered to be separate languages even though they are largely mutually intelligible, as in the case of Danish and Norwegian.

Conversely, many commonly accepted languages, including German, Italian and even English, encompass varieties that are not mutually intelligible.

While Arabic is sometimes considered a single language centred on Modern Standard Arabic, other authors describe its mutually unintelligible varieties as separate languages.

Similarly, Chinese is sometimes viewed as a single language due to shared culture and a single written form.

It is also common to describe various Chinese dialect groups, such as Mandarin, Wu and Yue, as languages, even though each of these groups contains many mutually unintelligible varieties.There are also difficulties in obtaining reliable counts of speakers, which vary over time due to population change and language shift.

In some areas, there is no reliable census data, the data is not current, or the census may not record languages spoken, or record them ambiguously.

Sometimes speaker populations are exaggerated for political reasons, or speakers of minority languages may be under-reported in favour of a national language.

List of sign languages by number of native signers

The following are sign languages reported to be spoken by at least 10,000 people.

Estimates for sign language use are very crude, and definitions of what counts as proficiency varied. For most sign languages we do not have even a crude estimate. For instance, there are reported to be a million signers in Ethiopia, but it is unknown which or how many sign languages they use.

The 2013 edition of Ethnologue lists 137 sign languages.

Lists of languages

This page lists published lists of languages.

Sign language

Sign languages (also known as signed languages) are languages that use the visual-manual modality to convey meaning. Language is expressed via the manual signstream in combination with non-manual elements. Sign languages are full-fledged natural languages with their own grammar and lexicon. This means that sign languages are not universal and they are not mutually intelligible, although there are also striking similarities among sign languages.

Linguists consider both spoken and signed communication to be types of natural language, meaning that both emerged through an abstract, protracted aging process and evolved over time without meticulous planning. Sign language should not be confused with body language, a type of nonverbal communication.

Wherever communities of deaf people exist, sign languages have developed as handy means of communication and they form the core of local deaf cultures. Although signing is used primarily by the deaf and hard of hearing, it is also used by hearing individuals, such as those unable to physically speak, those who have trouble with spoken language due to a disability or condition (augmentative and alternative communication), or those with deaf family members, such as children of deaf adults.

It is unclear how many sign languages currently exist worldwide. Each country generally has its own, native sign language, and some have more than one. The 2013 edition of Ethnologue lists 137 sign languages. Some sign languages have obtained some form of legal recognition, while others have no status at all.Linguists distinguish natural sign languages from other systems that are precursors to them or derived from them, such as invented manual codes for spoken languages, home sign, "baby sign", and signs learned by non-human primates.

Tactile signing

Tactile signing is a common means of communication used by people with both a sight and hearing impairment (see Deafblindness), which is based on a sign language or other system of manual communication.

"Tactile signing" refers to the mode or medium i.e. signing (using some form of signed language or code) using touch. It does not indicate whether the signer is using a tactile form of a natural language e.g. American Sign Language (ASL) a modified form of such a visual sign language, a modified form of a manual code for English Manually Coded English or something else. It has also been referred to as "hand over hand" referring to the position of the listener vis. the signer.

The finger

In Western culture, the finger or the middle finger (as in giving someone the (middle) finger or the bird or flipping someone off) is an obscene hand gesture. The gesture communicates moderate to extreme contempt, and is roughly equivalent in meaning to "fuck off", "fuck you", "shove it up your ass/arse", "up yours" or "go fuck yourself". It is performed by showing the back of a hand that has only the middle finger extended upwards, though in some locales, the thumb is extended. Extending the finger is considered a symbol of contempt in several cultures, especially in the Western World. Many cultures use similar gestures to display their disrespect, although others use it to express pointing without intentional disrespect. The gesture is usually used to express contempt but can also be used humorously or playfully.

The gesture dates back to ancient Greece and it was also used in ancient Rome. Historically, it represented the phallus. In the early 1800s, it gained increasing recognition as a sign of disrespect and was used by music artists (notably more common among actors, celebrities, athletes and politicians. Most still view the gesture as obscene). The index finger and ring finger besides the middle finger in more contemporary periods has been likened to represent the testes.

Village sign language

A village sign language, or village sign, also known as a shared sign language, is a local indigenous sign language used by both deaf and hearing in an area with a high incidence of congenital deafness. Meir et al. define a village sign language as one which "arise[s] in an existing, relatively insular community into which a number of deaf children are born." The term "rural sign language" refers to almost the same concept. In many cases, the sign language is known throughout the community by a large portion of the hearing population. These languages generally include signs derived from gestures used by the hearing population, so that neighboring village sign languages may be lexically similar without being actually related, due to local similarities in cultural gestures which preceded the sign languages. Most village sign languages are endangered due to the spread of formal education for the deaf, which use or generate Deaf-community sign languages, such as a national or foreign sign language.

World Federation of the Deaf

The World Federation of the Deaf (WFD) is an international non-governmental organization that acts as a peak body for national associations of Deaf people, with a focus on Deaf people who use sign language and their family and friends. WFD aims to promote the Human Rights of Deaf people worldwide, by working closely with the United Nations (with which it has consultative status) and various UN agencies such as the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the World Health Organization (WHO). WFD is also a member of the International Disability Alliance (IDA).

The current 11 board members are all deaf. The offices are located in Helsinki, Finland.

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