Plains Indian Sign Language


A language of United States

Alternate Names
Plains Sign Language

No monolinguals. Mostly elderly hearing people and some deaf people.


Great Plains and neighboring regions. Also in Canada.

Language Status

8a (Moribund).


North Central Plains Indian Sign Language. 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

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