South African Sign Language - one language or many? A sociolinguistic question

  • Debra Aarons Stellenbosch University
  • Philemon Akach Deaf Federation of South Africa


In this article we discuss the signed language used by the Deaf community in South Africa, and examine the historical conditions for its emergence. We describe the legal and actual situation of South Afiican Sign Language in South Africa today, larly in relation to schooling. We investigate the different factors that underlie the claims that there is more than one sign language in South Africa, and we spell out the practical consequences of accepting these claims without further examination.