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Taiwan Sign Language

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Taiwan Sign Language
Taiwan Ziran Shouyu
Native toTaiwan
Native speakers
20,000 (2004)[1]
Japanese Sign
  • Taiwan Sign Language
Language codes
ISO 639-3tss

Taiwan Sign Language (TSL; Chinese: 台灣手語; pinyin: Táiwān Shǒuyǔ) is the sign language most commonly used by the deaf and hard of hearing in Taiwan.


The beginnings of Taiwan Sign Language date from 1895.[2]

The origins of TSL developed from Japanese Sign Language during Japanese rule. TSL is considered part of the Japanese Sign Language family.[3]

TSL has some mutual intelligibility with both Japanese Sign Language and Korean Sign Language; it has about a 60% lexical similarity with JSL.[2]

There are two main dialects of TSL centered on two of the three major sign language schools in Taiwan: one in Taipei, the other in Tainan City. There is a variant based in Taichung, but this sign language is essentially the same as the Tainan school.

After the ROC took over Taiwan, Taiwan absorbed an influx of Chinese Sign Language users from China who influenced TSL through teaching methods and loanwords.[2]

Serious linguistic research into TSL began in the 1970s and is continuing at present. The first International Symposium on Taiwan Sign Language Linguistics was held on March 1–2, 2003, at National Chung Cheng University in Minxiong, Chiayi, Taiwan.

Functional markers[edit]

TSL, like other sign languages, incorporates nonmanual markers with lexical, syntactic, discourse, and affective functions. These include brow raising and furrowing, frowning, head shaking and nodding, and leaning and shifting the torso.[4]

In popular culture[edit]

The 2020 psychological-thriller The Silent Forest uses a large amount of the Taipei variant of TSL in the dialogue.[5]


  1. ^ Taiwan Sign Language at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015) (subscription required)
  2. ^ a b c Fischer & Gong 2010, p. 501.
  3. ^ Fischer & Gong 2010, p. 499.
  4. ^ Fischer & Gong 2010, p. 507.
  5. ^ "Movie prompts ministry official to pledge initiative against sexual harassment". Taipei Times. October 30, 2020. Retrieved February 9, 2021.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]