French Sign Language


A language of France

Alternate Names
LSF, Langue des signes française

100,000 in France (2019 Fédération Nationale des Sourds de France). Other estimates: 300,000 (2019 EUD), 169,000 (2014 IMB). Of these, approximately 1,000 use Marseille Sign Language (Sallagoity 1975).



Language Status

5 (Developing). Recognized language (2005, Code de l’éducation, Partie législative, Deuxième partie, Livre III, Titre 1er, Chapitre II, Article L312-9-1, Section 3 bis), Recognized as a complete language for use in education.


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 1978a).


One-handed fingerspelling.

Language Use

Vigorous. Used by all.

Language Development

TV. Videos. Dictionary. Grammar. Bible portions: 2011. Agency: National Federation for the Deaf of France (FNSF).


Unwritten documents [Zxxx].

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 many other sign languages, especially in Europe and the Americas. 400 working sign language interpreters (2019 EUD). Taught as an L2 to parents and others. Deaf schools. Deaf associations. Christian.

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