OLAC Record

Title:The Signed Languages of Indonesia: An Enigma

In 2003–2005, SIL International undertook a lexicostatistical survey of the signed languages of Indonesia. Wordlists and stories were collected from each of the nineteen states where one or more schools for the Deaf were run privately or by the government. The wordlists were video recorded and transcribed by hand using the SignWriting orthography.

The results of the wordlist comparisons point out the need for intelligibility testing between users of the various varieties of Indonesian Sign Language. Intelligibility testing should be carried out sometime in at least eleven of the nineteen states where the similarity between the signs in the list is low. This paper focuses on the results of the lexicostatistical survey.

There are at least two signed languages in use in Indonesia, Indonesian Sign Language and Bengkala Sign Language. Bengkala Sign Language is an isolect found in northern Bali in the village of Bengkala where there is a high proportion of Deaf among the inhabitants. It has been called Bali Sign Language in the past, but since it seems to be more or less confined to the village of Bengkala, it seems better to call it Bengkala Sign Language. The rest of the Deaf on the island use a form of Indonesian Sign Language. At the time of the survey there were two Deaf youth from Bengkala going to school in the Deaf school (or a Deaf class) in Singaraja which is about 17 kilometers from Bengkala Village.

American Sign Language (ASL) was introduced to various Deaf in scattered areas in Indonesia over the years by groups such as Peace Corp, missionaries and perhaps others, in some cases as recently as the 1990s. ASL seems to have influenced the indigenous sign languages of Indonesia, but that influence has only resulted in a partial identity with ASL. Some areas seem to have had very little influence at all, resulting in the very low similarity scores in the lexicostatistical survey in some place.

Contributor (author):Hurlbut, Hope M.
Description (URI):http://www.sil.org/resources/archives/58160
Extent:43 pages
Identifier (URI):http://www.sil.org/resources/archives/58160
Is Part Of:SIL Electronic Survey Reports 2014-005
Language (ISO639):eng
Publisher:SIL International
Spatial Coverage (ISO3166):ID
Subject:American Sign Language language
Bengkala Sign Language language
Indonesian Sign Language language
Language surveys; Sign language survey; Lexicostatistics
Subject (ISO639):ase
Type (DCMI):Text


Archive:  SIL Language and Culture Archives
Description:  http://www.language-archives.org/archive/sil.org
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OaiIdentifier:  oai:sil.org:58160
DateStamp:  2013-04-27
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Search Info

Citation: Hurlbut, Hope M. 2003-2005. SIL Electronic Survey Reports 2014-005.
Terms: area_Americas area_Asia area_Europe country_GB country_ID country_US dcmi_StillImage dcmi_Text iso639_ase iso639_bqy iso639_eng iso639_inl

Inferred Metadata

Country: IndonesiaUnited States
Area: AmericasAsia

Up-to-date as of: Mon Jun 15 5:43:44 EDT 2015