Norwegian Sign Language


A language of Norway

Alternate Names
NTS, Norsk Tegnspråk

2,500 (2014 EUD). 4,000 (Van Cleve 1986). 5,000 (2010 Norwegian Association of the Deaf). 2,500 sign language users (2014 EUD). 22,000 deaf (2014 IMB).



Language Status

5 (Developing).


Holmestrand, Oslo, Trondheim. Dialects associated with 3 schools: Holmestrand, Oslo, Trondheim. Intelligible with Danish [dsl] and Swedish [swl] sign languages with only moderate difficulty. Not intelligible with Finnish Sign Language [fse].


One-handed fingerspelling.

Language Use

Vigorous. Used since 1815. First deaf school in 1825; first deaf club in 1878. Interpreters required in court, provided some for college students, and mental health programs. Instruction provided for parents of deaf children. Many classes for hearing people. Committee on national sign language. Deaf associations. Used by all.

Language Development

British Sign Language [bfi], English [eng] and Norwegian [nor] taught as foreign languages starting in 1997 (2005 P. Pritchard). TV. Theater. Videos. Dictionary. Bible portions: 2004. Agency: Norwegian Association of the Deaf (NDF).


Unwritten documents [Zxxx].

Other Comments

Teachers required to take a one-year full-time university course in sign language. Parents of deaf children offered 40 weeks of sign language instruction free of charge (Timmermans 2005). Many classes for hearing people. Fingerspelling system similar to French Sign Language [fsl]. Right of deaf children to education in and about Norwegian Sign Language recognized by law in 1997 and 1999 (Timmerman 2005:64–65). 500 working sign language interpreters (2014 EUD). Museums of the Deaf in Trondheim and in Bergen. Christian.

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