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Eritrean Sign Language
Native toEritrea
Swedish Sign Language family[1]
  • Eritrean Sign Language
Language codes
ISO 639-3

Eritrean Sign Language (EriSL) is a sign language widely used in Eritrea by the 15000 deaf individuals who live there.[2] It developed out of the Swedish and Finnish Sign Languages,[1] that were introduced by Swedish and Finnish Christian missionaries in 1955,[1] containing a certain amount of local Eritrean signs and having ASL-based Sudanese influences.[3] According to Moges 2011, 70% of the EriSL and Finnish signs are identical.[1] Since 2005, the Eritrean National Association of the Deaf has made linguistic purification attempts to replace Swedish and Finnish signs from the EriSL lexicon by 'Eritrean' ones in an effort to create a more distinct, "indigenous" language.[1] This process is referred to as 'demissionization'.[1]

Swedish Sign Language family tree
Old British Sign Language?
(c. 1760–1900)
Swedish Sign Language
(c. 1800–present)
Portuguese Sign Language
(c. 1820–present)
Finnish Sign Language
(c. 1850–present)
Cape Verdian Sign Language
(c. 20th century–present)
Finland-Swedish Sign Language
(c. 1850–present)
Eritrean Sign Language
(c. 1950–present)
São Tomé and Príncipe Sign Language?
(c. 21st century–present)


  1. ^ a b c d e f Moges, Rezenet Tsegay (2015). It's a Small World. International Deaf Spaces and Encounters. Washington, DC: Gallaudet University Press. pp. 114–125.
  2. ^ "State of Eritrea". African Sign Languages Resource Center. Retrieved 2024-05-13.
  3. ^ Moges, Rezenet (January 2008). "Construction in Eritrean Sign Language". R. M. de Quadros (ed.). Editora Arara Azul. Petrópolis/RJ. Brazil. California State University. Retrieved 1 May 2013.