French Sign Language


A language of France

Alternate Names
Langue des Signes Française, LSF

100,000 in France (2014 EUD). 169,000 (2014 IMB). Of these, approximately 1,000 use Marseille Sign Language (Sallagoity 1975).



Language Status

5 (Developing).


Marseille Sign Language (Southern French Sign Language). 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. 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. Lexical similarity: 58% with American Sign Language [ase] in an 872-word list (Woodward 1978).


One-handed fingerspelling.

Language Use

Deaf schools. Deaf associations.

Language Development
New media. Films. TV. Dictionary. Grammar. Bible portions: 2011.
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. 360 working sign language interpreters (2014 EUD). Taught as an L2 to parents and others. Christian (Roman Catholic).

Also spoken in:

Expand All Collapse All