Zimbabwean Sign Language

  • Maxwell Kadenge
  • Martin Musengi


This entry presents the socio-political history of Zimbabwean Sign Language (ZSL). The language has no genetic links with any of the existing spoken languages in Zimbabwe. It emerged in the 1940s when the missionaries built schools of the deaf, and this is where most deaf children acquire the language. There are three dictionaries that have been published on this language. Like most minority languages, there are no existing descriptive grammars on the language. The current draft of the forthcoming constitution in Zimbabwe recognizes it as an official language and this is expected to boost the future politico-socio-cultural and economic value of the language. The aim of this entry is to present the social and political history of ZSL (or ZimSign). This is the language that is used by the deaf community in Zimbabwe.


Zimbabwean Sign Language Deaf community Missionaries Official language 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Maxwell Kadenge
    • 1
  • Martin Musengi
    • 2
  1. 1.Linguistics DepartmentWitwatersrand UniversityJohannesburgSouth Africa
  2. 2.Robert Mugabe School of Education & CultureGreat Zimbabwe UniversityMasvingoZimbabwe

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