Al-Sayyid Bedouin Sign Language

Al-Sayyid Bedouin Sign Language (ABSL) is a young language which arose spontaneously in the village of Al-Sayyid in southern Israel, as a result of a high incidence of deafness in the community (about 3.5%). It is different in vocabulary and structure from other sign languages in the region. Since it arose spontaneously, with hardly any influence of other languages, it offers us the rare opportunity to trace the emergence of a language almost from the beginning, and to discover its essential ingredients. Today, there are about 130 deaf signers and a large number of hearing signers in the village.


Our research on the emergence of ABSL has focused on various aspects of its linguistic structure, such as morphology, prosody, sentence structure and lexicon. We compiled a dictionary [Introduction to the dictionary in Arabic, Hebrew and English] of the language consisting of 300 entries, and including a brief history of the village and its earliest signs, as told by Saleh Al-Sayyid (in Arabic, Hebrew and English).