Flemish Sign Language

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A language of Belgium

Alternate Names
VGT, Vlaamse Gebarentaal
Population

6,500 (2019 EUD). 6,000 (2005 M. Vermeerbergen).

Location

Scattered in the north.

Language Status

5 (Developing). Recognized language (2006, Parliamentary decree, 15 February).

Dialects

West-Vlaanderen (West Flanders), Oost-Vlaanderen (East Flanders), Antwerpen (Antwerp), Vlaams-Brabant (Flemish Brabant), Limburg. These regional dialects developed in different deaf schools. Also intra-regional variation, some related to gender and age. Most similar to French Belgian Sign Language [sfb]. Influence from spoken Dutch [nld], particularly in mouthing. Limited influence from Signed Dutch (used for some communication with hearing people). Fingerspelling system similar to French Sign Language [fsl].

Typology

One-handed fingerspelling.

Language Use

Vigorous. 7 schools for the deaf in Flanders but only a few use VGT for instruction. As of 2008, deaf children increasingly put in regular schools, with occasional interpreting into VGT. Used by all. Also use Dutch [nld], in classrooms for writing (Van Herreweghe and Vermeerbergen 2003).

Language Development

Videos. Dictionary. Grammar. Agency: Federation of Flemish Deaf Organisations (Fevlado).

Writing

Unwritten documents [Zxxx].

Other Comments

Some courses and training programs for L2 users and interpreters. 165 sign language interpreters (2019 EUD). Legal provision of free sign language interpreting since 1993. Christian.

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