The emergence of signed language in Tajik schools for the deaf: A scalar ecological investigation of a complex contact situation


I present data from a signed language in Tajikistan, which emerged beginning around 1940 primarily in a residential school for the deaf near Dushanbe, when hearing Soviet educators began teaching L2 varieties of Russian Sign Language (RSL) to children. Neither of the interacting groups in this contact situation formed language communities. It is unlikely that RSL functioned as the community language amongst Russian-speaking educators, and deaf children came together from a heterogeneous mix of geographic and linguistic backgrounds. Can existing theories of language contact and creation explain the complex set of sociolinguistic factors and linguistic features implicated in the emergence of signed language in Tajikistan?

Hamburg, Germany