Japanese Sign Language


A language of Japan

Alternate Names
JSL, NS, Nihon Shuwa, Shuwa, Temane

317,000 (Van Cleve 1986).



Language Status

5 (Developing).


None known. Related to Taiwanese [tss] and Korean [kvk] sign languages.

Language Use

Vigorous. Over 95% of the deaf understand Japanese Sign Language. 107 deaf schools. The first school opened in Kyoto in 1878. Used by all.

Language Development

TV. Bible portions: 1993–2018.


Unwritten documents [Zxxx].

Other Comments

‘Shuwa’ (sign language) is the most common name in Japan; ‘Nihon Shuwa’ (NS, Japanese Sign Language) is used primarily by linguists, although many linguists use the English name and abbreviation; ‘Temane’ (gesturing) is a former name, not commonly used today. Pidgin Signed Japanese is distinct, and used often in formal situations, lectures, speeches, and for interaction with hearing people. 80% of the deaf understand fingerspelling.

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