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A Sign Language of Their Own: São Tomé and Príncipe Sign Language

Deaf people in São Tomé and Príncipe are now creating a sign language of their own. Researchers are anaylzing their emerging language.
Two drawings show two different signs in São Tomé and Príncipe Sign Language with brief explanation in text.

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If no one teaches them, some Deaf people grow up without language. But if Deaf people find each other and form a community, they will eventually create a sign language of their own. Therefore, one of the newest languages in the world is the São Tomé and Príncipe Sign Language. São Tomé and Príncipe is an African island nation near the equator. Meanwhile, the country São Tomé and Príncipe has an unusually high ratio of Deaf people. Additionally, many of them had no language or education. In response, a project brought together Deaf people in the country. During their first two years in forming a community, Deaf people in São Tomé and Príncipe evolved a new language. Researchers analyzed the language and how it has evolved.

This article published in the November 2017 issue of the Sign Language and Linguistics journal. Meanwhile, this PDF file is accessible for people using screen reading software with minimal difficulty.

Also watch a Deaf man in Ghana explain what happened when he found Deaf children who had no language. Or learn about Deaf people in Uganda learning to sign for the first time. Additionally, explore other research related to sign language or access to language.

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