Albanian Sign Language


A language of Albania

Alternate Names
AlbSL, Gjuha Shenjave e Shqip, Gjuha Shqiq e Shenjave, Gjuha e Shenjave Shqipe

3,000 (Hoyer 2007). 15,000 deaf in Albania, 24,100 worldwide (2014 IMB).



Language Status

5* (Developing).


None known. Historically strong influence from spoken Albanian [sqi] with initialized signs and heavy use of fingerspelling, as well as gestures borrowed from hearing people. Has developed rapidly since the end of Communist control in 1990, with lexical borrowing from International Sign [ils] and other sign languages (Hoyer 2007; 2008 K. Hoyer). Not similar to any other sign languages in the Balkan area. Fingerspelling system similar to French Sign Language [fsl].


One-handed fingerspelling.

Language Use

Residential deaf school in Tirana established 1963 with an oralist philosophy, but deaf people did not gather on a regular basis until Communism collapsed in 1990 (Hoyer 2007). Sign language began to be taught in 2005. Deaf associations. Also use English [eng], especially among youth in school and on the internet (Dimoshi 2013).

Language Development

TV. Theater. Videos. Dictionary. Agency: Albanian National Association of the Deaf (ANAD).


Unwritten documents [Zxxx].

Other Comments

L2 teaching materials being developed. Muslim, Christian.

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