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.[1]

Language Family or origin Legal recognition and where spoken natively by significant population Ethnologue estimate
Saudi Sign LanguageLanguage isolateNative to Saudi Arabia.720,000 (2010)
Chinese Sign LanguageLanguage isolateNative to China. Also spoken in Malaysia and Taiwan.unknown, maybe 1,000,000–20,000,000 (no date)
Brazilian Sign LanguageLanguage isolate?
French Sign Language?
Legally recognized by law 10.436, April 24, 2002[2] - Native to Brazil.3,000,000 (no date)
Indo-Pakistani Sign LanguageRelated to Nepalese Sign Language and possibly other sign languages of the regionNo legal recognition. Native to India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.2,700,000 in India (2003)
American Sign LanguageFrench Sign Language family. Descended from Old French Sign Language and Martha's Vineyard Sign LanguageUsually recognized as fulfilling a "foreign language" requirement by several colleges and used as the language of instruction in most deaf schools. Native to United States, Canada and Guatemala. Used in varying degrees in Philippines, Singapore, Hong Kong, Côte d'Ivoire, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Togo, Benin, Nigeria, Chad, Gabon, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Central African Republic, Mauritania, Kenya, Madagascar and Zimbabwe.≈ 500,000 in the USA
Hungarian Sign LanguageFrench: Austrian≈ 350,000 (2006)
Kenyan Sign LanguageUnknownNative to Kenya.340,000
Japanese Sign LanguageJSL FamilyNative to Japan.320,000
Ecuadorian Sign LanguageIsolate?188,000 (1986)
Norwegian-Malagasy Sign LanguageDanish SLNative to Norway. Also used in Madagascar185,000 (5,000 in Norway; 2006)
British Sign LanguageBANZSL. Descended, in part, from Old Kent Sign Language among other home sign systems in BritainNative to United Kingdom.125,000
Russian Sign LanguageFrench Sign Language familyNative to Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Moldova, Bulgaria; partly in Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania.121,000
French Sign LanguageFrench Sign Language family. Descended from Old French Sign LanguageNative to France. Spoken in Switzerland, Mali, Rwanda, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Togo, Vietnam50,000–150,000
Philippine Sign LanguageFrench Sign Language family.Native to Philippines 100,000 (1986)
Spanish Sign LanguageUnknown origin.Officially recognized by Spanish Government. Native to Spain except Catalonia and Valencia. 100,000
Mexican Sign LanguageFrench Sign Language familyNative to Urban Mexico. 87,000–100,000 (1986)
German Sign LanguageGerman Sign Language family Native to Germany.50,000
Polish Sign LanguageGerman Sign Language family Native to Poland.50,000
Greek Sign LanguageFrench-ASL mix43,000
Italian Sign LanguageAmericanRecognized language in Sicily.40,000
Irish Sign LanguageFrench40,000
Yugoslav Sign LanguageFrench: Austro-HungarianSlovenia, Croatia, Bosnia, Serbia30,000
New Zealand Sign LanguageBANZSL. Descended from British Sign Language.Native to New Zealand.24,000 (2006)
Malaysian Sign LanguageFrench: ASL24,000
Hong Kong Sign LanguageChinese20,000 (2007)
Dutch Sign LanguageFrench20,000
Catalan Sign LanguageFrench?18,000
AuslanBANZSL. Descended from British Sign Language and Irish Sign Language.Native to Australia.14,000

See also


  1. Lewis, M. Paul; Simons, Gary F.; Fennig, Charles D., eds. (2013). "Ethnologue: Languages of the World" (17th ed.). SIL International. Archived from the original on 2013-11-26. Retrieved 2013-12-03. |contribution= ignored (help)
  2. Lei 10.436 de 24 de abril de 2002 Archived 2010-09-10 at the Wayback Machine. (in Portuguese)

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