How Much Do You Know About Russian Sign Language?

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By jwblackwell



9 Questions

What language family does Russian Sign Language belong to?

What is the difference between RSL and Signed Russian?

What is the legal status of RSL in Russia?

What is the most common form of bilingualism among deaf people in Russia?

What is the role of facial expressions in RSL?

What is the current situation regarding skilled RSL interpreters in Russia?

What is the basic word order in RSL?

What are classifier predicates in RSL?

What did President Dmitry Medvedev discuss regarding sign language in Russia?


Russian Sign Language: An Overview

  • Russian Sign Language (RSL) is used by the Deaf community in Russia and potentially Belarus and Tajikistan, and belongs to the French Sign Language family.
  • RSL is a natural language with a grammar that differs from spoken or written Russian language. Signed Russian is an artificial form of communication used in schools and differs from RSL in strictly following Russian grammar.
  • Although RSL is legally recognized in Russia, it does not enjoy state support, and there is a lack of skilled RSL interpreters in the country.
  • Most deaf people in Russia are born to hearing families and therefore are not provided the opportunity to acquire a native-like command over RSL. Bilingualism between RSL and written or spoken Russian is very common.
  • Signed Russian differs from RSL in that it is an artificial form of communication that closely follows Russian word order and adds Russian grammatical features not found in RSL.
  • There appears to be a relatively significant amount of regional variation in RSL comparable to regional variants of Polish Sign Language or Estonian Sign Language.
  • The basic word orders in RSL appear to be SVO and SOV. Topicalization introduces previously mentioned information.
  • Verbs may either take one, two, or no arguments at all in RSL. Classifier predicates are highly iconic verbal signs in which the handshape represents an object and the movement expresses how the object moves.
  • Whereas tense is marked analytically or lexically, aspectual distinctions are marked morphologically.
  • RSL makes extensive use of facial expressions for grammatical purposes, and signs are either performed with one or both hands.
  • The current legal status of RSL is that it is legally recognized in Russia, but there is no state support.
  • There is hope that the situation can change, as President Dmitry Medvedev discussed the issue of the status of sign language in Russia in 2009.


Test your knowledge about Russian Sign Language with this informative quiz. Learn about the language's grammar, regional variation, and legal status. Explore the differences between RSL and signed Russian, and discover how the use of facial expressions and hand movements is critical in conveying meaning. Challenge yourself to understand the unique features of RSL, including classifier predicates, and how bilingualism with written and spoken Russian is common among the Deaf community.

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