Rare language fact file: Adamorobe Sign Language

Native to: Adamorobe village, Ghana

Number of native speakers: 35

Spoken by: Adamorobe villagers

Learn some: You can learn how to sign the days of the week with this YouTube video.

Interesting facts:

  • Adamorobe has a much higher incidence of deafness than the rest of Ghana. This stands now at roughly 2% of the population (compared to 0.4% in the continent of Africa as a whole), but in the past at a much higher percentage – some sources giving it as high as 25%. Researchers have identified a mutated gene that is responsible for this, which has been passed down through generations.
  • The village developed its own sign language, which is completely distinct from the official Ghanaian Sign Language. In order for Adamorobe’s deaf population to be fully integrated into village life, everyone, hearing or deaf, uses Adamorobe Sign Language.
  • As with all minority languages, Adamorobe Sign Language is now under threat from more dominant ones. Deaf children in the village are now sent to school at Ghana’s boarding school for the deaf, where they learn the official Ghanaian Sign Language, alongside written English.

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