Emerging Sign Languages

Irit Meir, Wendy Sandler, Carol Padden, Mark Aronoff

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Emerging sign languages may be divided into two types: village sign languages and Deaf community sign languages. Village sign languages develop within small communities or villages where transmission is within and between families. They include languages such as Al-Sayyid Bedouin Sign Language (ABSL, Israel), Martha's Vineyard Sign Language (United States), Ban Khor Sign Language (Thailand), Kata Kolok Sign Language (Bali), and Adamarobe Sign Language (Ghana). Deaf community sign languages arise from bringing together unrelated signers of different backgrounds in locations such as cities or schools. In such cases (e.g., Nicaraguan Sign Language and Israeli Sign Language [ISL]), language learning takes place in large measure between peers. We assume that the social conditions under which a language develops interact with the development of its linguistic structure. Emerging sign languages are crucial for developing and evaluating such assumptions. Because of their young age, much is known about the social conditions and histories of their communities, and their linguistic development is observable from very early stages. These factors make emerging sign languages a natural laboratory for studying the development of linguistic structure and its interaction with the nature of the language community.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Oxford Handbook of Deaf Studies, Language, and Education
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Electronic)9780199940288
ISBN (Print)9780195390032
StatePublished - 18 Sep 2012

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2010 by Oxford University Press, Inc. All rights reserved.


  • Deaf community sign language
  • Language emergence
  • Sign language
  • Village sign language

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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