Deaf Community Learns About Hawaiian Sign Language

April 22, 2013

By Ofer Tirosh


The discovery of Hawaiian sign language was recently shared with the local deaf community of Hawaii. It is estimated that only about one hundred people use Hawaiian sign language in today’s age.

Oh, I feel like jumping, I'm so ecstatic," said Linda Lambrecht about the recognition of the language. "All these years people said, 'That's just pidgin, that's pidgin language, pidgin sign.'" 

Lambrecht is one of the researchers and an American Sign Language instructor at Kapiolani Community College.

"Hawaii is the last to become a state, which means that American Sign Language hadn't influenced Hawaii until much later. And in the past, they did have their own sign language," said Dr. Barbara Earth, a member of the linguistics department at the University of Hawaii.

Researchers from the University of Hawaii estimate that the language may have been around longer than American Sign Language, but is officially noted as the first new language discovered in the US since the 1930s. 

The next step for Hawaiian sign language is the possibility of spreading the new language, along with more research on it.

Lambrecht says, “"It really is a language from Hawaii. And I'm just so thrilled that we're all here today to recognize that."

More information about Hawaiian Sign Language can be found online.


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