Hawaii has unique sign language for deaf

Summarized by Katie Lutzker, staff writer

All languages have adapted and changed over time. With Spanish, for example, there are numerous amounts of dialects that are unique to traditions and culture of specific places throughout the continent. Although Spanish is the most broadly known language throughout Latin American, languages like Mayan, Quechua, and others are still around today and shape cultures that speak this language that is not as popular or well-known. It can be said the same for sign language.

Hawaiian Sign Language developed in the early 1800s and is only practiced in the isolated state by a handful. Minus the 40 (older) Hawaiians who use HSL, the rest of the sign language speakers use the universal sign language now in use developed in the 1940s. HSL includes different grammar and a vastly different signing system, but since it is only known by a handful of islanders, it is in crisis of fading away. Hopefully there will be more effort to revitalize HSL because it is an old language rooted in tradition and unique to the island. It would be a shame to see it disappear.

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