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Around seven Tanzanian sign languages were developed independently among deaf students in separate Tanzanian schools for the deaf starting in 1963, though use of several are forbidden by their schools. In 1984, a standardized Tanzanian Sign Language was proposed by the Tanzania Association for the Deaf, using common or similar signs where these exist in the schools which allowed research, but it has not been officially implemented, and there remains little influence between the languages. A dictionary has been produced.[3]

Tanzanian sign
Native toTanzania
Native speakers
280,000 (2008)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3tza

The common Swahili term in Tanzania for these languages is lugha ya alama (ya Tanzania), lit. '(Tanzanian) sign language'. The term lugha ya bubu 'mute/dumb language' is also used, but is pejorative.[1]


  1. ^ a b Tanzanian sign at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Tanzanian Sign Language". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. ^ Muzale, MRT (2004). Kamusi ya Lugha ya Alama ya Tanzania (LAT) / Tanzanian Sign Language (TSL) Dictionary. ISBN 9987-691-02-1.