Japanese Sign Language

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Japanese Sign Language
Native to Japan
Native speakers 320,000  (1986)[1]
Language family
Japanese Sign Language family
  • Japanese Sign Language
Official status
Regulated by Japanese Federation of the Deaf
Language codes
ISO 639-3 jsl

Japanese Sign Language (日本手話 Nihon Shuwa?), also known as JSL[2] or NS,[3] is the main sign language in Japan.

History[change | change source]

The Tokyo School for the Blind and Deaf, circa 1900

In 1878, the first school for the deaf was established in Kyoto.

In 1900, the Tokyo School for the Deaf (東京都立ろう学校 Tokyo ro-a gakko?) was founded.

In 1948, deaf children were required to attend school.[4]

In the late-20th century, Japanese sign language began to be recognized.[5]

The Japanese Federation of the Deaf is for those Japanese whose primary language is JSL.[6]

JSL has a friend in the Imperial family. Kiko, Princess Akishino has studied JSL and is a trained sign language interpreter.[7] She also signs in informal Deaf gatherings.[8]

In 2006, the Japanese government amended the "Supporting Independence of People with Disabilities Act." The new language in the law encourages local governments to increase the number and use of JSL interpreters.[9]

Elements of Japanese Sign Language (JSL)[change | change source]

As in other sign languages, JSL (usually called simply 手話 shuwa, "hand talk") consists of words, or signs, and the grammar with which they are put together.

Examples of JSL signs[change | change source]

References[change | change source]

  1. Japanese Sign Language at Ethnologue (16th ed., 2009)
  2. JSL is an English acronym. JSL stands for "Japanese Sign Language".
  3. NS is a romaji acronym. NS stands for "Nihon Shuwa".
  4. Monaghan, Leila Frances. (2003). Many Ways to be Deaf: International Variation in Deaf Communities, p. 211.
  5. Nakamura, Karen. (2006). Deaf in Japan: Signing and the Politics of Identity, p. 9, citing Kimura, Harumi and Yasuhiro Ichida. 1995. "Roubunka Sengen" (An Explanation of Deaf Culture), Gendai Shisou, Vol. 23, No. 3, pp. 354-399.
  6. Nakamura, Karen. "Resistance and Co‐optation: the Japanese Federation of the Deaf and its Relations with State Power," Social Science Japan Journal (SSJJ) (2002) Vol. 5, No. 1, pp. 17-35.
  7. Imperial Household Agency. Their Imperial Highnesses Prince and Princess Akishino
  8. "Princess Kiko chats with Deaf soccer players in sign language after film show," Deaf Japan News. September 7, 2010.
  9. Saruhashi, Junko and Yuko Takeshita. "Ten Linguistic Issues in Japan: The Impact of Globalization," Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development

Further reading[change | change source]

Other websites[change | change source]