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Mexican Sign Language

Mexican Sign Language (LSM)
lengua de señas mexicana
Native to Mexico
Region Cities
Native speakers
130,000 (2010)
French Sign
  • Mexican Sign Language (LSM)
Dialects
Language codes
ISO 639-3
Glottolog mexi1237  (LSM proper)
mexi1247  (LSM family)

Mexican Sign Language (“lengua de señas mexicana” or LSM, also known by several other names), is the language of the Deaf community in the urban regions of Mexico. It is the primary language of 87,000 to 100,000 people (1986 T. C. Smith-Stark).

Core signing populations are found in Mexico City, Guadalajara and Monterrey, with a number of smaller cities containing signing communities. Some regional variation is found (80%-90% lexical similarity across the country according to Faurot et al. 2001).

Variation is high between age group and people of completely different religious backgrounds.

LSM is quite distinct from Spanish, with completely different verb inflections, different discourse structure and preferences for word order, and little use of the verb to be. However, there is extensive use of initialised signs with one study finding 37% of a 100-word list are initialised, compared to 14% for American Sign Language (Faurot et al. 2001). The same authors suggest that the Deaf community's comprehension of the Spanish language is very low.

The term "Signed Spanish” refers to signing that uses LSM signs (lexicon) in a Spanish word order, with some representations of Spanish morphology. There is a group of suffixes that signed Spanish uses in a way similar to that of signed English, e.g. signed symbols for -dor and -ción (for nouns). Articles and pronouns are fingerspelled. Signed Spanish (or Pidgin Signed Spanish) is often used by interpreters and during public reading or song-leading. Signed Spanish is also used by some hard of hearing and late deafened people.

LSM is widely believed by the deaf community to have derived from Old French Sign Language (OFSL), which combined with pre-existing local sign languages and home sign systems when deaf schools were first established in 1869. However, it is mutually unintelligible with American Sign Language, which emerged from OFSL 50 years earlier in the US, although the American manual alphabet is almost identical to the Mexican one. Spanish Sign Language used in Spain is different from Mexican Sign Language, though LSM may have been influenced by it.


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Wikipedia

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