LINGUIST List 24.1205
Mon Mar 11 2013
Media: Hawaiian Sign Language Distinct from ASL
Editor for this issue: Anna Belew
Paul Chapin <pgchapin
Hawaiian Sign Language Distinct from ASL
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Linguists say they have determined that a unique sign language, possibly dating back to the 1800s or earlier, is being used in Hawaii, marking the first time in 80 years a previously unknown language — spoken or signed — has been documented in the U.S.
Researchers will formally announce their findings this weekend showing it's not a dialect of American Sign Language, as many long believed, but an unrelated language with unique vocabulary and grammar. Only about 40 people, most in their 80s, are known to currently use Hawaii Sign Language, meaning the discovery comes just as the language is on the cusp of disappearing.
Page Updated: 11-Mar-2013