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, though 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


For more detail see African sign languages

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.

Adamorobe Sign Languagevillage sign(ADS) (Ghana)
Algerian Sign LanguageFrench
Bamako Sign Languagelocal deaf communityused by adult men. Threatened by ASL.
Bura Sign Languagevillagein Nigeria
Burkina Sign Languagelocal[10]Ouagadougou (Langue des Signes Mossi)
Chadian Sign LanguageASL:Nigerian?
Dogon Sign Languagelocal? village?
Eritrean Sign Languageartificial
Ethiopian sign languages1 million signers of an unknown number of languages
Francophone African Sign LanguageASL & spoken FrenchThe development of ASL in Francophone West Africa
Gambian Sign LanguageASL
Ghanaian Sign LanguageASL(GSE)
Guinean Sign LanguageASL
Guinea-Bissau Sign Languagelocalincipient/basic
Hausa Sign Languagelocal"Maganar Hannu" (HSL) – Northern Nigeria (Kano State)
Kenyan Sign Languagelocal?(KSL or LAK)
Libyan Sign LanguageArab?
Malagasy Sign LanguageFrench:Danish:Norwegian(or "Madagascan Sign Language") May be a dialect of Norwegian SL
Mauritian Sign Languageisolate
Mofu-Gudur Sign Languagevillagenot clear if this is a SL, or the gestures accompanying spokenMofu-Gudur
Moroccan Sign LanguageASL
Mozambican Sign Language
Mbour Sign LanguagelocalM'Bour, Senegal
Namibian Sign LanguagePaget-Gorman
Nanabin Sign Languagevillagea deaf family in Nanabin, Ghana
Nigerian Sign LanguageASL
Rwandan Sign Language?
Sierra Leonean Sign LanguageASL
Somali Sign LanguageKenyan SL
South African Sign LanguageIrish & British(SASL)
Sudanese sign languagesvillage & local?Government proposal to unify local languages
Tanzanian sign languageslocal(seven independent languages, one for each deaf school in Tanzania, with little mutual influence)
Tebul Sign Languagevillage(Tebul Ure SL) Mopti, Mali (village of Tebul Ure)
Tunisian Sign LanguageFrench:Italian
Ugandan Sign Languagelocal?(USL)
Yoruba Sign Languagelocal(YSL)
Zambian Sign Language(ZASL)
Zimbabwean sign languages"sign language" is an official language


American Sign LanguageFrench(ASL)
Argentine Sign LanguageSpain and Italy(Lengua de Señas Argentina - LSA)
Bolivian Sign LanguageASL"Lenguaje de Señas Bolivianas" (LSB)
Brazilian Sign LanguageFrenchLibras (Lingua Brasileira de Sinais)[11]
Recognized legally as a means of communication among the Brazilian Deaf community.[12]
Bribri Sign Languagevillage?
Brunca Sign Languagevillage?
Chatino Sign Languagevillage
Chilean Sign LanguageFrench?Lenguaje de Señas Chileno (LSCH)
Colombian Sign Language(CSN) / Lengua de Señas Colombiana (LSC)
Costa Rican Sign Languageat least 4 languages in Costa Rica (Woodward 1991)
Old Costa Rican Sign Language
Cuban Sign Language
Dominican Sign LanguageASL
Ecuadorian Sign Language
Greenlandic Sign LanguageDanish"Kalaallisut Ussersuutit" (DTS)
Guatemalan Sign Language
Guyanese Sign Language?
Honduras Sign LanguageMexican?"Lengua de señas hondureña" (LESHO)
Inuit Sign Languagevillage"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 LanguageASL(JSL)
Jamaican Country Sign Languagelocal(JCSL)
Kajana Sign LanguagevillageKajana Gebarentaal
Keresan Sign Languagevillage(KPISL)
Maritime Sign LanguageBritish
Mayan Sign Languagevillage
Mexican Sign LanguageFrench"Lengua de señas mexicana" (LSM)
Navajo Sign LanguagePISL
Nicaraguan Sign Languagelocal"Idioma de señas nicaragüense" (ISN)
Old Cayman Sign Languagevillagegave rise to Providence Island SL?
Quebec Sign LanguageFrench-ASL mix"Langue des Signes Québécoise" (LSQ)
Panamanian Sign LanguageASL, some Salvadoran influence"Lengua de señas panameñas"
Paraguayan Sign Languagerelated to Uruguayan?"Lengua de Señas Paraguaya" (LSPy)
Peruvian Sign Languageisolate"Lengua de señas peruana"
Puerto Rican Sign LanguageASL"Lengua se señas puertorriqueña"
Providence Island Sign Languagevillage
Salvadoran Sign Languageisolate
Trinidad and Tobago Sign Languageisolate?ASL taught in schools; most deaf bilingual
Uruguayan Sign Language"Lengua de Señas Uruguaya"
Urubú Sign Languagevillage(AKA Kaapor Sign Language)
Venezuelan Sign Languageisolate"Lengua de señas venezolana" (LSV)


Afghan Sign Languageindig, or ASL creole?
Alipur Sign Languagevillage
Amami Oshima Sign Languagevillage or idioglossiaJapan
AuslanBritish(Australian Sign Language)
Ban Khor Sign Languagevillage(Plaa Pag is a dialect)
Bhutanese Sign Language?
Burmese sign language?may be two languages
Cambodian Sign Language= mixed LSF, BSL, ASL, various dialects within
Chinese Sign LanguageChinese"中國手語" (ZGS)
Enga Sign LanguagevillagePNG
Ghandruk Sign Languagevillage(Nepal)
Hawaiʻi Sign Language?
Hong Kong Sign LanguageShanghai Sign Language"香港手語" (HKSL). Derives from the southern dialect of CSL.
Huay Hai Sign Languagevillage(Thailand) [no data]
Indo-Pakistani Sign LanguageIndianconflicting reports on whether Indian and Pakistani SL are one language or two.
Jakarta Sign LanguageASL:Malaysian?:Indonesiana variety of Indonesian Sign Language
Japanese Sign LanguageJapanese"Nihon Shuwa (日本手話)" (JSL)
Jhankot Sign Languagevillage(Nepal)
Jumla Sign Languagevillage(Nepal)
Kata Kolokvillage(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 LanguageASL"Bahasa Isyarat Malaysia" (BIM)
Mongolian Sign Language?"Монгол дохионы хэл"
Na Sai Sign Languagevillage(Thailand) [no data]
Naga Sign Languagevillage?(India) last reported in 1921
Nepali Sign LanguageIndianIndigenous sign language with inputs from Indian Sign Language, American Sign Language, International Sign, and others
New Zealand Sign LanguageBritish(NZSL)
Old Bangkok Sign Languagelocal (or village?)
Old Chiangmai Sign Languagelocal (or village?)
Papua New Guinean Sign LanguageBritish
Penang Sign Languagelocal(Malaysia)
Philippine Sign LanguageFrench(PSP)
Rennellese Sign Languagehome sign, not a full language(Solomon Islands)
Solomon Islands Sign Language
Samoan Sign LanguageAuslang
Selangor Sign LanguageASL?(Malaysia)
Singapore Sign Language"新加坡手语" is actually just Signed Exact English. The daily language is unknown.
Sri Lankan sign languageslocal(14 deaf schools with different languages)
Taiwanese Sign LanguageJapanese臺灣手語 / Taiwan Ziran Shouyu
Tibetan Sign Languagelocal
Thai Sign LanguageASL(TSL) "แบบสะกดนิ้วมือไทย" (incl. Hai Yai)
Vietnamese sign languageslocal(Hanoi Sign Language, Ho Chi Minh Sign Language, Haiphong Sign Language; some may be related to some of the Thai languages)
Yogyakarta Sign LanguageASL:Malaysian?:Indonesiana variety of Indonesian Sign Language
Yolŋu Sign Languagelocal


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

Middle East

Al-Sayyid Bedouin Sign Languagevillage(ABSL), Negev
Egyptian Sign LanguageArab
Emirati Sign LanguageArab
Ghardaia Sign Languagevillage(Algerian Jewish Sign Language) deaf & hearing, Algeria Israel
Iraqi Sign LanguageArabالعراقى مترجمي لغة الاشارة Perhaps close to Levantine.
Israeli Sign Languagelocalשפת סימנים ישראלית
Jordanian Sign LanguageArab, LevantineLughat il-Ishaarah il-Urduniah / الاردنية مترجمي لغة الاشارة (LIU)
Kuwaiti Sign LanguageArabلغة الاشارة الكويتية
Lebanese Sign LanguageArab, LevantineLughat al-Isharat al-Lubnaniya / لغة الإشارات اللبنانية
Mardin Sign Languagevillageone extended family in Turkey[15]
Omani Sign LanguageArab?
Palestinian Sign LanguageArab, Levantine"لغة الاشارات الفلسطينية"
Persian Sign Language
Qatari Unified Sign LanguageArab?
Saudi Sign Languageisolate"لغة الإشارة السعودية"
Seraglio Sign LanguageOttoman court
Syrian Sign LanguageArab, Levantine
Yemeni Sign LanguageArab"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


  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 = | 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". Retrieved 2012-05-21.
  15. "Mardin Sign Language". University of Central Lancashire. 2010-09-16. Retrieved 2012-05-21.
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