Taiwan Sign Language


A language of Taiwan

Alternate Names
Taiwan Ziran Shouyu

20,000 (2004), decreasing.



Language Status

6b (Threatened).


Taipei, Tainan, Kaohsiung. 2 major dialects. Sources from which the sign language developed were indigenous sign systems before 1895, Japanese occupation and education 1895–1946, Mainland Chinese Sign Language brought by refugees in 1949 and some from Hong Kong since. Lexical similarity: 50% with Japanese Sign Language [jsl].

Language Use

Decreasing, but not likely to die out, as many deaf are not candidates for cochlear implants or hearing aids. Schools, sporting events, some homes, churches for the deaf. Some young people, all adults. 5 to old age. Neutral attitudes. Many also use Mandarin Chinese [cmn], in written form or use gestures.

Language Development

Literacy rate in L2: 60%–70%. 4 elementary, 3 high schools. Taught in primary and secondary schools.


Unwritten documents [Zxxx].

Other Comments

Quite different from (Mainland) Chinese Sign Language [csl]; only a few signs the same or similar. Not related to Taiwanese languages. Some signs borrowed from Chinese characters, e.g. by drawing on the palm with a finger. There is also a Signed Mandarin (Wenfa Shouyu). 1,540 special education schools in Taiwan in 2002, which includes schools for the deaf.

Page Views Left: