Swedish Sign Language
Linguistic classification? British Sign
  • Swedish Sign Language

The Swedish Sign Language family is a language family of sign languages, including Swedish Sign Language, Portuguese Sign Language, and Finnish Sign Language.

Swedish SL started about 1800. Henri Wittmann[1] proposes that it descends from British Sign Language. Regardless, Swedish SL in turn gave rise to Portuguese Sign Language (1823) and Finnish Sign Language (1850s), the latter with local admixture; Finnish and Swedish Sign are mutually unintelligible.

Ethnologue reports that Danish Sign Language is largely mutually intelligible with Swedish Sign, though Wittmann places DSL in the French Sign Language family. There are no known dialects in the Swedish Sign Language, however, it is partly intelligible with other manual languages such as Danish (DSL), Norwegian (NSL), and Finnish (FSE).[2]

The Finland-Swedish Sign Language, also known as FinSSL, was created by the deaf community of Swedish backgrounds inhabiting the coastal areas of Finland. It is declared as an independent language given the connection to the Finland-Swedish culture.[3]

Swedish Sign Language family tree
Swedish Sign Language
(c. 1800–present)
Portuguese Sign Language
(c. 1820–present)
Finnish Sign Language
(c. 1850–present)
Finland-Swedish Sign Language
(c. 1850–present)
Eritrean Sign Language
(c. 1950–present)


  1. ^ Wittmann, Henri (1991). "Classification linguistique des langues signées non vocalement" (PDF). Revue québécoise de linguistique théorique et appliquée (in French). 10 (1): 215–288. Archived (PDF) from the original on 6 March 2023.
  2. ^ "Swedish Sign Language". Ethnologue. Retrieved 2017-09-06.
  3. ^ Jepsen, Julie (2015). Sign Languages of the World: a Comparative Handbook. De Gruyter.