Documentation of Algerian Jewish Sign Language

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AlgeriaMapAlgerian Jewish Sign Language is unique in having moved from the village's original location to a new one, in another country. Therefore, it offers a rare opportunity to investigate the influence of immigration on a village sign language. The community is originally from Ghardaia, Algeria (see the map). However, this unique socio-linguistic characteristic also makes the language seriously endangered. Most Deaf Algerian Jews in Israel married spouses from other origins. Therefore, most of them do not use the language with their spouses and children, only with their parents (if still alive), siblings and relatives from their original family. With their spouses and children, they use Israeli Sign Language (ISL).

Algeria2Therefore, most of the Deaf Algerian signers in Israel are bilingual – in Algerian sign language and ISL, and they code-switch a lot. The younger generation does not acquire the language, and therefore it is likely to disappear within a generation. Interestingly, hearing family members are less influenced by ISL (as they are not part of the larger Deaf community), and therefore are more likely to use the language with other deaf people. Therefore, it is important to study both Deaf and hearing language users.

 

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Photo: Impressions of current day Ghardaia

 

 

Source: http://www.uclan.ac.uk/schools/iscri/islands/islands_research_regions_israel.php