Jamaican Sign Language


A language of Jamaica

Alternate Names

7,500 (2011 E. Parks).



Language Status

5 (Developing).


Could be considered a dialect of American Sign Language (ASL) [ase] but is gradually diverging, with significant lexical and syntactic differences (Cumberbatch 2012a).

Language Use

Vigorous. Used as primary means of instruction in schools run by the Jamaican Association of the Deaf (Cumberbatch 2012a). Used by all. Some also use American Sign Language [ase]. A few also use Konchri Sain [jcs]. Younger Deaf in the Top Hill area, St. Elizabeth Parish, use Jamaican SL as L1 and Konchri Sain as L2 (Cumberbatch 2012b). Used as L2 by Konchri Sain [jcs].

Language Development

Videos. Grammar. Agency: Jamaican Association for the Deaf (JAD).


Unwritten documents [Zxxx].

Other Comments

Evidence of sign language use in the 19th century, with possible early influence from Konchri Sain [jcs] and British Sign Language (BSL) [bfi]. BSL used in a school started in 1939. Starting 1957, strong influence from ASL and Signed English used in American missionary schools (Braithwaite et al 2016). Mostly concentrated in Kingston, but also found in other areas such as Montego Bay, St. Ann Parish, and Mandeville (2016 B. Gayle).

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