Norwegian Sign Language

Norwegian Sign Language, or NSL (Norwegian: norsk tegnspråk, NTS), is the principal sign language in Norway. There are many sign language organizations and some television programs broadcast in NSL in Norway. The Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation airs Nyheter på tegnspråk (News in Sign Language) daily and Tid for tegn (Time for Signs) weekly.

Norwegian Sign Language
Norsk tegnspråk
Native toNorway
Native speakers
2,500 (2014)[1]
French Sign
Language codes
ISO 639-3
nsl  Norwegian SL

Norway is in the process of making NSL an official language.[3]

Relation to Malagasy Sign Language

The language is sometimes reported to be similar, or even identical to the sign language used in Madagascar.[4] In fact, while Norwegian Sign Language may have influenced Malagasy sign language via the creation of schools for the deaf by Norwegian Lutheran missionaries, the languages are quite distinct. Out of a sample of 96 sign pairs, 18 pairs were identical between the two languages, 26 showed some level of similarity, and 52 appeared completely unrelated. It is not yet known to what degree the similarities are a result of direct borrowing, borrowing from a common source language (such as ASL or International Sign, mimesis of the thing they refer to, or sheer coincidence.[5]

See also


  1. Norwegian SL at Ethnologue (22nd ed., 2019)
  2. Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Norwegian Sign". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. Ministry of Culture and Church Affairs
  4. Malagasy Sign Language, Ethnologue
  5. A Preliminary Study of Norwegian Sign Language and Malagasy Sign Language
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