French Sign Language or Langue des signes Francaise is used by over 100,000 people in France. It was recognized as an official language in the country in 2005. FSL has a regional dialect – the Marseille Sign Language which is used in Marseille and other parts of Southern France. It has its own alphabet, which is called dactylogical – used to spell proper names and words which do not exist in sign language. You can use FSL to signal time and emotion. The word order differs from traditional French although it is largely influenced by the written French language. FSL is in a process of growth and transformation even today enriching itself with the help of mime and new inventions.
FSL happens to be one of the first few sign languages in the Western world to gain acceptance as an official language. FSL has come to influence various other sign languages in the world. It is disseminated via deaf schools and deaf associations. FSL shares about 58% lexical similarity with ASL. At present, there are some 400 working sign language interpreters in France. The number is only expected to grow as FSL users grow in number. Thought ASL was the only sign language used in the West? Now, you know better.