- Al-Sayyid Bedouin Sign Language
name=Al-Sayyid Bedouin Sign Language
signers=150 deaf signers, many more hearing signers
notice=nonoticeThe Al-Sayyid Bedouin Sign Language (ABSL) is a
sign languageused by about 150 deafand many hearing members of the al-Sayyid Bedouintribe in the Negev desert of southern Israel. As both deaf and hearing people share a language, deaf people are not stigmatised in this community, and marriage between deaf and hearing people is common.
The Al-Sayyid community (as of
2004) numbers around 3,000 in total, most of whom trace their ancestry back to the time the village was founded, in the mid 1800s, by a local woman and an Egyptian man. Two of this founding couple's five sons carried a gene for nonsyndromic, genetically recessive, profound pre-lingual neurosensory deafness. The descendants of the founding couple often married their cousins due to the tribe's rejection by its neighbours for being "foreign fellahin". [ [http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/pages/ShArt.jhtml?itemNo=434665 One in Twenty] Haaretz, 2 June 2004] This meant that the gene became homozygousin several members of the family.
ABSL came to worldwide attention in February
2005when an international group of researchers published a study of the language in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The spontaneous emergence of the language in the last 70 years, which has developed a complex grammar without influence from any other language, is of particular interest to linguists for the insights it provides into the birth of human language.
ABSL shows a preference for
Subject Object Verb word order(e.g. "WOMAN CHILD FEED"), in marked contrast to the dialect of Arabic spoken by hearing members of the community (SVO), as well as Hebrew (SVO), classical Arabic (VSO), and the predominant sign languages in the region, Israeli Sign Languageand Jordanian Sign Language. The authors of the study see ABSL as evidence for the human tendency to construct communication along grammatical lines.
Authors of the study (
Mark Aronofffrom State University of New York at Stony Brook, Irit Meir and Wendy Sandler from the University of Haifaand Carol Paddenfrom the University of California, San Diego) also remarked on the speed with which a grammar emerged, with the SOV word-order emerging with the first generation of signers, as well as the language's continuing rapid development — the third generation is signing twice as fast as the first and is using longer sentences.
Because many of the younger generation are now exposed to Israeli Sign Language and Jordanian Sign Language in school, and marriage outside the community is growing, it is unclear whether ABSL will survive.
Adamorobe Sign Language
Nicaraguan Sign Language(ISN), another language which emerged in recent years which has excited linguists outside the specialised field of sign language research. However, ABSL is considered to reflect a more natural emergence of a language from a stable community, unlike ISN which evolved in a school setting.
Language acquisition device
* [http://sandlersignlab.haifa.ac.il/html/html_eng/al_sayyid.html Al-Sayyid Bedouin Sign Language] Sign Language Research Laboratory, University of Haifa
*Sandler W, Meir I, Padden C, Aronoff M. (2005) " [http://www.pnas.org/cgi/content/abstract/0405448102v1?ct The emergence of grammar: systematic structure in a new language] ", Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
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