Deaf Community of Alipur
Native toIndia
Native speakers
150–250 (2012)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3None (mis)
ELPAlipur Sign Language

Alipur Sign Language is a village sign language of India.[2] It is spoken in the town of Alipur, Karnataka, a Shia Muslim enclave with a high degree of congenital deafness. There are between 150 and 250 deaf people in Alipur,[1] and there are approximately 10,000 hearing people speaking the language[2] on a population of 26,000 (in 2015). The language has no official status and deaf children receive no formal education. This fact plus the increasing influence of the Indian Sign Language threaten the survival of Alipur Sign Language (or APSL[3]). Sibaji Panda was the first person to officially document the language in 2012.[4]

During his study, Panda found out that the proportion of deaf population in Alipur was of approximately 0.75%, against 0.41% on national average (data from the 2011 census).

The deaf community of Alipur helped Panda in his researches, particularly Mir Fazil Raza, a 53 year old former gram panchayat chief, who helped set up the Alipur Unity Society for the Deaf. Mr. Fazil Raza helped with translation from English to the sign language, conducted survey with the help of other members of the community, and served as an informator for the documentation of the language.

Endogamous marriages in the town have led to this large population of deaf, but a deaf man cannot marry a deaf woman. Since there are no public records in the town, it is difficult to establish the veracity of this information.[5]

The sign language is used by many hearing people as well, with level of fluency that greatly varies.[4]

The language has a variety of ways to express numbers,[6] using additions and subtractions to express numbers with high complexity. Mouth movements can be added to express bigger numbers.[5]

The majority of inhabitants in the town are Shia Muslim. The Shia Muslim population descend from Bijapur after the down fall of Adil Shahi Dynasty and are proud of their culture and history.

The younger generation is less interested in using the village sign language. Mobility and technology gives them access to the Internet and they travel to Bengaluru where they learn Indian Sign Language and American Sign Language. The lack of formal education is nevertheless a barrier for them to be able to use script-based applications (like text messaging) and there aren't many employment opportunities.[4]

A better understanding of the situation of the language could be beneficial for the population. Nobel School (A Private School in a Village) has recently started classes for the deaf children. However, there is a hope to re-open the government school for special children.[7]


  1. ^ a b Sobaji, Panda. "Investigation of an endangered village sign language in India". Endangered Languages Archive at SOAS University of London. Retrieved 2017-07-24.
  2. ^ a b "Alipur Sign Language". The Endangered Languages Project. Retrieved 2017-07-24.
  3. ^ "Alipur Sign Language (APSL)". University of Central Lancashire. CATALOGUING ENDANGERED SIGN LANGUAGES. Retrieved 2017-07-24.
  4. ^ a b c Panda, Sibaji (2012). "Alipur Sign Language: A sociolinguistic and cultural profile". Sign Languages in Village Communities. Sign Language Typology [SLT]. Basel: DE GRUYTER. pp. 253–260. doi:10.1515/9781614511496.353. ISBN 9781614511496.
  5. ^ a b Zeshan, Ulrike; Escobedo Delgado, Cesar Ernesto; Dikyuva, Hasan; Panda, Sibaji; de Vos, Connie (2016). "Cardinal numerals in rural sign languages: Approaching cross-modal typology". Linguistic Typology. Vol. 17. Basel: DE GRUYTER. pp. 357–396. ISSN 1613-415X.
  6. ^ Friedman, Joshua J. (July 28, 2013). "Village sign languages, vanishing fast". Boston Globe. Retrieved 2017-07-24.
  7. ^ Dikyuva, Hasan; Delgado, Cesar Ernesto Escobedo; Panda, Sibaji; Zeshan, Ulrique (2012). "Working with village sign language communities". Sign Languages in Village Communities. Sign Language Typology [SLT]. Basel: DE GRUYTER. pp. 313–404. doi:10.1515/9781614511496.313. ISBN 9781614511496.