New Zealand Sign Language


A language of New Zealand

Alternate Names

20,200 (2013 census).

Language Status

5 (Developing). Recognized language (2006, New Zealand Sign Language Act, No. 18, Article 6).


None known. Many structural similarities between British Sign Language (BSL) [bfi], Australian Sign Language (Auslan) [asf], and New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL) [nzs] and a high degree of mutual intelligibility (2003 T. Johnston, 2005 R. McKee). Linguists sometimes use the name BANZSL to refer to them as a group, while still recognizing them as separate related languages.


Two-handed finger-spelling system derived from British Sign Language [bfi].

Language Use

Developed informally among deaf people at school and in deaf organizations. Used since 1800s. First school for the deaf established 1880 with oralist policies until 1979.

Language Development

TV. Dictionary. Grammar.

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