Northern Ireland Sign Language

Northern Ireland Sign Language
Northern Ireland Sign Language
Signed in Ireland, United Kingdom
Region Northern Ireland
Native signers 3,500 (recognised as BSL signers)[1]
Language family
BANZSL Family. Emerging from British, Irish, and American Sign.
  • Northern Ireland Sign Language
Language codes
ISO 639-3 None

Northern Ireland Sign language (NISL) is a sign language used mainly by Deaf people in Northern Ireland.

NISL is described as being related to Irish Sign Language (ISL) at the syntactic level while the lexicon is based on British Sign Language (BSL)[2] and American Sign Language (ASL).[citation needed]

A number of practitioners see Northern Ireland Sign Language as a distinct and separate language from both BSL and ISL though "many 'Anglo-Irish' Northern Irish signers argue against the use of the acronym NISL and believe that while their variety is distinct, it is still a part of British Sign Language."[2]

As of March 2004 the British Government recognises only British Sign Language and Irish Sign Language as the official sign languages used in Northern Ireland.[1][3]


  1. ^ a b "Sign Language". Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure. Retrieved 2011-01-31. 
  2. ^ a b Janzen, Terry (2005). Topics in Signed Language Interpreting: Theory And Practice. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Company. pp. 256 & 265. ISBN 902721669X. OCLC 60742155. Retrieved 2008-06-22. 
  3. ^ "Paul Murphy announces recognition for sign language". Northern Ireland Office. 2004-03-30. Retrieved 2011-01-31. "I am pleased to announce formal recognition for both British and Irish Sign Languages in Northern Ireland."