Use of GRI Grant to Explore Hawaiian Sign Language

A study started in 2010 funded by GRI grants among other sources has discovered a new language that has gone unnoticed in America for hundreds of years. Hawaiian Sign Language (HSL) until this point was categorized as a dialect of American Sign Language. This study has found evidence of Deaf people using HSL as thier native language in the 1800s, long before American Sign Language could have possibly influenced the language. Even after the introduction and widespread use of ASL in Hawaii in the 1940s, HSL continued its tradition in small populations of unique vocabulary and grammar structure. This ongoing study strives to continue to gather more information about the language, the Deaf users. Currently, a new three year project is underway in hopes of creating an HSL dictionary and courses in the language to promote preservation of this newfound yet endangered language.

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