Plains Indian Sign Language


A language of United States

Alternate Names
Plains Sign Language

Mostly elderly hearing people and some middle-aged or older deaf people. 0 monolinguals.


Scattered. Great Plains and neighboring regions.

Language Status

8a (Moribund).Used by deaf people with family and friends and formerly as a lingua franca for inter-tribal contact by hearing and deaf people. Wide range of genres including story-telling, prayers, inter-tribal negotiation, and bantering (Davis 2010).


Some variation by ethnic group and region, but dialect differences do not impede communication among different tribes. Comparisons between different historical sources of lexical data on PISL range from 80% to 92%. Comparison of these sources with American Sign Language [ase] show 50% similarity.


SOV; compounding (head-initial); verb agreement; classifier predicates.

Language Use

Second language only. Also use American Sign Language [ase].