French Sign Language


A language of France

Alternate Names
Langue des Signes Française, LSF

100,000 in France (2013 European Union of the Deaf (EUD)). Estimates of population in France vary: 50,000–100,000 users (Van Cleve 1986). Of these, approximately 1,000 use Marseille Sign Language (Sallagoity 1975).

Language Status

5 (Developing).


Marseille Sign Language (Southern French Sign Language). When Deaf and hearing people interact in sign, they use a mixture of elements drawn from LSF and French, and deaf people themselves vary in how much their signing is influenced by French. Marseille Sign Language (Southern French Sign Language), is used in Marseille, Toulon, La Ciotat and Salon de Provence. Many sign languages have been derived from or influenced by LSF, but are not necessarily intelligible with it. Lexical similarity: 58% with American Sign Language [ase] in an 872-word list (Woodward 1978).


One-handed finger-spelling system.

Language Use

360 working sign language interpreters (2013 European Union of the Deaf (EUD).

Language Development
Other Comments

Promoted by the educational efforts of Charles Michel de l’Épée in the 18th century and one of the first sign languages in the western world to gain recognition as an actual language. Consequently it has influenced several other sign languages, especially in Europe and the Americas.

Also spoken in:

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