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Nicaraguan Sign Language

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Nicaraguan Sign Language is a sign language developed in isolation from other sign language in the 1970s in Nicaragua. It was developed when the Sandinista government created a school for deaf children in Nicaragua (there had previously been no such public institution).

NSL and linguistics

NSL (aka ISN, Idioma de Senas de Nicaragua) is particularly interesting to linguists because it has apparently grown from a pidgin to a full-fledged creole in a few decades, due to the repeated influx of new child learners who would adopt NSL as their first language.

It also represents the formation of a new language without an adult community of fluent native "speakers", which is otherwise quite unusual , in that normal creoles develop from the pidgin mixture of two (or more) distinct communities of fluent speakers; this pidgin (and later creole) developed from a group of young people with no first language.


In order to protect the language, some researchers are interested in restricting access of these young NSL users to other forms of sign language (e.g. American Sign Language). Others argue that this is an unethical restriction of their freedom of movement.

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