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List of sign languages by number of native signers

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Title: List of sign languages by number of native signers  
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Subject: Polish manual alphabet, Irish manual alphabet, Portuguese manual alphabet, Yugoslav manual alphabet, Association of Visual Language Interpreters of Canada
Collection: Sign Languages
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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 so crude, and definitions of what counts as proficiency so varied, that 100,000 speakers is not necessarily more than 10,000. 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
Chinese Sign Language Language isolate Native to China.Also spoken in Malaysia and Taiwan. unknown
Brazilian Sign Language Language 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 Language Related to Nepalese Sign Language and possibly other sign languages of the region No legal recognition. Native to India, Bangladesh and Nepal. 2,700,000 in India (2003)
American Sign Language French Sign Language family. Descended from Old French Sign Language and Martha's Vineyard Sign Language Usually recognized as a "foreign language" 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 Language French: Austrian ≈ 350,000 (2006)
Kenyan Sign Language unknown Native to Kenya. 340,000
Japanese Sign Language JSL Family Native to Japan. 320,000
Ecuadorian Sign Language isolate? 188,000 (1986)
Norwegian-Malagasy Sign Language Danish SL Native to Norway. Also used in Madagascar 185,000 (5,000 in Norway; 2006)
British Sign Language BANZSL. Descended, in part, from Old Kent Sign Language among other home sign systems in Britain Native to United Kingdom. 125,000
Russian Sign Language French Sign Language family Native to Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Moldova, Bulgaria; partly in Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania. 121,000
French Sign Language French Sign Language family. Descended from Old French Sign Language Native to France. Signed in Switzerland, Mali, Rwanda, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Togo, Vietnam 50,000–150,000
Spanish Sign Language Unknown origin. Officially recognized by Spanish Government. Native to Spain except Catalonia and Valencia. 100,000
Mexican Sign Language French Sign Language family Native to Urban Mexico. 87,000–100,000 (1986)
German Sign Language Related to Polish Sign Language Native to Germany. 50,000
Greek Sign Language French-ASL mix 43,000
Irish Sign Language French 40,000
Yugoslav Sign Language French: Austro-Hungarian Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia, Serbia 30,000
New Zealand Sign Language BANZSL. Descended from British Sign Language. Native to New Zealand. 24,000 (2006)
Malaysian Sign Language French: ASL 24,000
Hong Kong Sign Language Chinese 20,000 (2007)
Dutch Sign Language French 20,000
Catalan Sign Language French? 18,000
Auslan BANZSL. Descended from British Sign Language and Irish Sign Language. Native to Australia. 14,000
Swedish Sign Language isolate, or maybe British Native to Sweden. over 8,000

See also


  1. ^ Lewis, M. Paul; Simons, Gary F.; Fennig, Charles D., eds. (2013). "Ethnologue: Languages of the World" (17th ed.). SIL International. Retrieved 2013-12-03. 
  2. ^ Lei 10.436 de 24 de abril de 2002 (in Portuguese)

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