Finnish Sign Language


A language of Finland

Alternate Names
FinSL, SVK, Suomalainen viittomakieli, Viittomakieli

5,000 (2006 Institute for the Languages of Finland). Institute for the Languages of Finland estimates 5,000 deaf and 10,000 hearing signers. 5,000 deaf signers (2014 EUD). 26,500 (2014 IMB).



Language Status

5 (Developing). Recognized language (2011, No. 61, Institute for sign language status).


2 major dialects from the Finnish (17 schools) and Swedish (1 school) communities. Signed Finnish, used by some teachers of the deaf, is distinct. Developed originally out of Swedish Sign Language [swl], but now distinct. Closely-related to Finland-Swedish Sign Language (FinSSL) [fss], but FinSL users generally have difficulty understanding FinSSL unless FinSSL users adapt towards FinSL. Some borrowing from Finnish [fin]. (Hoyer 2004) Not intelligible with Danish Sign Language [dsl].


One-handed fingerspelling.

Language Use

Vigorous. Used by deaf people whose families speak Finnish [fin] and who attended schools that used Finnish as the language of instruction (Hoyer 2004). Used by all.

Language Development

TV. Videos. Dictionary. Grammar. Bible portions: 1989. Agencies: Finnish Association of the Deaf (FAD); Finnish Museum of the Deaf.


Unwritten documents [Zxxx].

Other Comments

Fingerspelling system similar to French Sign Language [fsl]. First deaf school founded 1850s. The government pays interpreters to accompany the deaf to hospitals, college, church, etc. Interpreters required in court. 600 working sign language interpreters (2019 EUD). Instruction for parents of deaf children. Many classes for hearing people. Christian.

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