The Most Popular Sign Language: A Ranking of Global Usage

Choose the sign language you think is the most popular!

Author: Gregor Krambs
Updated on Feb 17, 2024 06:32
Welcome to StrawPoll, where your opinion truly matters! Today, we invite you to dive into the fascinating world of sign languages and help us determine "What is the most popular sign language?" by casting your vote. Pick from our diverse selection of globally recognized sign languages or suggest a hidden gem that we may have missed. As you explore the diverse and captivating ways people communicate, let's celebrate the beauty of human connection and create a vibrant, interactive ranking. Join thousands of others on this enlightening journey, and let your voice be heard. Remember, every vote counts, so don't hesitate to share your thoughts and make your mark on the world of sign languages!

What Is the Most Popular Sign Language?

  1. 1
    34
    votes
    American Sign Language (ASL)
    Psiĥedelisto · Public domain
    ASL is the most widely used sign language in North America and is the official language of the Deaf community in the United States. It is also recognized as a foreign language in many American schools and universities.
    American Sign Language (ASL) is a natural language used primarily by the Deaf community in the United States and parts of Canada. It is a visual-gestural mode of communication that uses hand movements, facial expressions, and body language to convey meaning.
    • Language Structure: ASL has its own grammatical structure and syntax, separate from English.
    • Vocabulary Size: ASL has a vast vocabulary, with estimates ranging from 50,000 to 75,000 signs.
    • Regional Variations: ASL has regional variations, with different signs and slight linguistic variations in different areas.
    • Manual Alphabet: ASL uses a manual alphabet called the American Manual Alphabet (AMA) to spell out words and names.
    • Non-Manual Markers: ASL uses non-manual markers such as facial expressions, head tilts, and body movements to convey information.
  2. 2
    26
    votes
    British Sign Language (BSL)
    Danachos · CC BY-SA 4.0
    BSL is the sign language used in the United Kingdom and is recognized as an official language by the government. It has a unique grammar and vocabulary that is distinct from other sign languages.
  3. 3
    18
    votes
    Auslan is the sign language used in Australia and is the primary language of the Deaf community in the country. It has been recognized as an official language since 1987.
    Australian Sign Language (Auslan) is the predominant sign language used by the Deaf community in Australia. It is a visual-gestural language that incorporates hand shapes, facial expressions, body movements, and space to convey meaning. Auslan is recognized as an official language in Australia and is used in various contexts, including education, media, and social interactions.
    • Sign Vocabulary: Auslan has a rich vocabulary of signs that are constantly evolving.
    • Grammar: Auslan has its own unique grammatical structure, which differs from English grammar.
    • Fingerspelling: Auslan incorporates fingerspelling for names, places, and technical terms.
    • Regional Variations: There are regional variations in Auslan across different parts of Australia.
    • One-handed vs. Two-handed Signs: Auslan has a mix of one-handed and two-handed signs, with some signs only requiring one hand while others require both hands.
  4. 4
    19
    votes

    French Sign Language (LSF)

    Charles-Michel de l'Épée
    LSF is the sign language used in France and is recognized as an official language by the French government. It has a long history and has influenced many other sign languages around the world.
    French Sign Language (LSF) is the most widely used sign language in France and is an official language recognized by the French government. LSF is primarily used by the Deaf community in France to communicate with each other and with hearing individuals who have learned the language. It is known for its unique grammar and syntax, which distinguishes it from spoken French.
    • Usage: Primary sign language in France
    • Grammar: Distinct grammar and syntax
    • Fingerspelling: Includes a system of manual alphabet
    • One-handed/Two-handed: Primarily two-handed, but can be adapted for one-handed communication
    • Vocabulary: Large vocabulary for various concepts
  5. 5
    16
    votes
    JSL is the sign language used in Japan and is recognized as a minority language by the government. It has a unique grammar and vocabulary that is distinct from other sign languages.
    Japanese Sign Language (JSL) is the primary sign language used by the deaf community in Japan. It is a visual-gestural language that is utilized to communicate through a combination of handshapes, facial expressions, body movements, and spatial awareness. JSL has its own unique grammar and syntax structure, separate from spoken Japanese. It is recognized as an official language by the Japanese government, and it plays a crucial role in the cultural and social lives of the deaf community in Japan.
    • Usage: Primary sign language used by the deaf community in Japan
    • Grammar: Distinct grammar and syntax separate from spoken Japanese
    • Vocabulary: Extensive lexicon of signs
    • Handshapes: Utilizes a variety of handshapes and movements
    • Facial Expressions: Significant reliance on facial expressions for conveying meaning
  6. 6
    9
    votes
    DGS is the sign language used in Germany and is recognized as a minority language by the government. It has a long history and has influenced many other sign languages in Europe.
    German Sign Language (DGS) is the primary sign language used by deaf individuals in Germany. It is a natural visual-gestural language that incorporates handshape, movement, facial expressions, and body language to convey meaning and communicate information. DGS is recognized as an official language in Germany and has its own unique grammar and vocabulary.
    • Origin: DGS originated in the 18th century and developed organically within the German deaf community.
    • Grammar: DGS has a subject-object-verb (SOV) word order and uses facial expressions, body movements, and spatial relationships to convey grammatical information.
    • Vocabulary: DGS has a diverse vocabulary that includes signs for objects, actions, emotions, and abstract concepts. It continually evolves and adapts to new situations and societal changes.
    • Regional Variations: There are regional variations in DGS, with certain signs and lexical differences based on geographical location.
    • Alphabet: DGS utilizes a manual alphabet system for fingerspelling individual letters and words.
  7. 7
    9
    votes
    LSE is the sign language used in Spain and is recognized as a minority language by the government. It has a unique grammar and vocabulary that is distinct from other sign languages.
    Spanish Sign Language (LSE) is the natural sign language used by the Deaf community in Spain. It is a visual-gestural language that incorporates hand shapes, facial expressions, and body movements to convey meaning. LSE has its own grammar and syntax, distinct from spoken Spanish. It is a widely recognized and respected form of communication in Spain.
    • Number of Signers: Approximately 100,000 signers in Spain
    • Alphabet: LSE has a manual alphabet to spell out names, places, and specialized terms
    • Regional Variations: There are some regional variations in LSE, for example, in Catalonia and the Basque Country
    • Influence: LSE is influenced by French Sign Language (LSF) and American Sign Language (ASL)
    • Recognition: LSE is recognized as an official language in Spain and is protected by the Spanish Constitution
  8. 8
    5
    votes

    Swedish Sign Language (SSL)

    Swedish deaf community
    SSL is the sign language used in Sweden and is recognized as a minority language by the government. It has a long history and has influenced many other sign languages in Scandinavia.
    Swedish Sign Language (SSL) is the official sign language used by the deaf community in Sweden. It is a natural sign language that emerged organically within the Swedish deaf community. SSL is recognized as the primary means of communication for deaf individuals in Sweden, and it has its own unique grammar, vocabulary, and cultural nuances.
    • Usage: Official sign language in Sweden
    • Origin: Emerged within the Swedish deaf community
    • Grammar: Has its own unique grammar
    • Vocabulary: Has its own unique vocabulary
    • Cultural nuances: Reflects Swedish deaf culture
  9. 9
    9
    votes
    Libras is the sign language used in Brazil and is recognized as an official language by the government. It has a unique grammar and vocabulary that is distinct from other sign languages.
    Brazilian Sign Language (Libras) is the official sign language in Brazil and is used by the deaf community across the country. It is a visual-gestural communication system that allows deaf individuals to communicate with each other and with hearing people. Libras has its own grammar and vocabulary, distinct from spoken Portuguese.
    • Usage: Used primarily in Brazil by the deaf community.
    • Grammar: Has its own unique grammar and syntax.
    • Vocabulary: Includes a large vocabulary of signs to convey meaning.
    • Manual Alphabet: Utilizes a manual alphabet for finger-spelling.
    • Facial Expressions: Emphasizes the use of facial expressions to convey emotions and nuances.
  10. 10
    3
    votes
    CSL is the sign language used in China and is recognized as a minority language by the government. It has a long history and has influenced many other sign languages in Asia.
    Chinese Sign Language (CSL) is the predominant sign language used by the deaf community in China. It is a natural sign language that has evolved over time through the communication needs of the Chinese deaf community.
    • Gloss system: CSL uses a glossing system to represent Chinese characters and concepts.
    • Two-handed signs: CSL includes a high percentage of two-handed signs with simultaneous hand movements.
    • Regional variations: There are regional variations of CSL that may differ in vocabulary and grammar.
    • Classifier constructions: CSL makes use of classifier constructions to represent objects and their actions.
    • Iconicity: CSL exhibits a moderate level of iconicity, where signs often resemble their referents.

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Ranking factors for popular sign language

  1. Number of speakers
    This includes the number of people who use the sign language as their first language or as a means of communication.
  2. Geographic spread
    The geographical spread of the language across the world is an important factor.
  3. Cultural significance
    Sign languages that are culturally significant or are recognized as official languages in countries have higher popularity.
  4. Recognition and acceptance
    How widely recognized and accepted the sign language is in society is an important factor in its popularity.
  5. Use in education
    The use of the language in education, with dedicated schools and a curriculum, can increase its popularity.
  6. Availability of resources
    The availability of resources such as books, dictionaries, and online resources can help in promoting and popularizing the language.

About this ranking

This is a community-based ranking of the most popular sign language. We do our best to provide fair voting, but it is not intended to be exhaustive. So if you notice something or language is missing, feel free to help improve the ranking!

Statistics

  • 2020 views
  • 148 votes
  • 10 ranked items

Voting Rules

A participant may cast an up or down vote for each language once every 24 hours. The rank of each language is then calculated from the weighted sum of all up and down votes.

More information on most popular sign language

When it comes to communicating with the deaf or hard of hearing, sign language is an essential tool. There are over 300 sign languages used around the world, each with its unique syntax, grammar, and vocabulary. However, some sign languages enjoy more popularity than others. According to a recent study, American Sign Language (ASL) is the most widely used sign language in North America. It is also recognized as an official language in the United States and Canada. British Sign Language (BSL) is the most common sign language in the United Kingdom, and Auslan is the most popular in Australia. Other popular sign languages include French Sign Language (LSF), which is used in France, Belgium, and Switzerland, and Japanese Sign Language (JSL), which is used in Japan. As the deaf community continues to grow and evolve, so too will the popularity of different sign languages.

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