Zimbabwe Sign Language


A language of Zimbabwe

Alternate Names

280,000 (2008 WFD). 280,000 deaf members of the Zimbabwe National Association of the Deaf (2008 WFD).


Mashonaland Central province: Muzarabani district, Centenary area.

Language Status

5 (Developing).


Masvingo School Sign, Zimbabwe Community Sign, Zimbabwe School Sign. Signing varies significantly in different schools. Masvingo sign language is different from that used in other schools. School languages differ from those used by adults outside. Inherent intelligibility unclear. Dictionary publication intended to bring standardization. Possible influence from several European sign languages. Fingerspelling system similar to French Sign Language [fsl].


One-handed fingerspelling.

Language Use

Primary schools for deaf children since 1940s. Also secondary schools (2008 WFD). Deaf associations. Literacy in English [eng] is better among some deaf people than others, but generally limited. Literacy is quite limited in Shona [sna], which is mainly known by those from Masvingo.

Language Development
TV. Dictionary.
Other Comments

15 interpreters, trained by Zimbabwe National Association of the Deaf (2008 WFD).