|French Sign Language|
|Before 1850, Western Europe, and North America; today parts of Europe, the Americas, Africa, and Asia.|
|Linguistic classification||One of the world's sign language families|
The French Sign Language (LSF, from langue des signes française) or Francosign family is a language family of sign languages which includes French Sign Language and American Sign Language.
The LSF family descends from Old French Sign Language (VLSF), which developed among the deaf community in Paris. The earliest mention of Old French Sign Language is by the abbé Charles-Michel de l'Épée in the late 17th century, but it could have existed for centuries prior. Several European sign languages, such as Russian Sign Language, derive from it, as does American Sign Language, established when French educator Laurent Clerc taught his language at the American School for the Deaf. Others, such as Spanish Sign Language, are thought to be related to French Sign Language even if they are not directly descendant from it.
Anderson (1979) postulated the following classification of LSF and its relatives, with derivation from Medieval monks' sign systems, though some lineages are apparently traced by their manual alphabets and thus irrelevant for actual classification:
Henri Wittmann (1991) has been influential in scholarly attempts at constructing the French Sign Language family tree. He listed most of the following suspected members of the family, with date of establishment or earliest attestation. Subsequent scholarly research has confirmed most of his conclusions, but rejected others and expanded the family tree with new branches, while removing others.
French Sign Language (1752; may be different from Old French Sign Language)
Wittnann believed Lyons Sign Language, Spanish Sign Language, Brazilian Sign Language, and Venezuelan Sign Language, which are sometimes counted in the French family, had separate origins, though with some contact through stimulus diffusion, and it was Lyons rather than French Sign Language that gave rise to Belgian Sign Language. Chilean Sign Language (1852) has also been included in the French family but is not listed by Wittmann. Hawaiian Pidgin Sign Language (with possible local admixture) turned out to be an isolate, unrelated to French, American, or any other Sign Language. J. Albert Bickford concluded that there was 'no substantive evidence that the [Lyons Sign Language] ever existed' and retired it from Ethnologue in 2017.
|French Sign Language family tree|