Besides some brief mentions in the literature nearly nothing is known about
the sign language used in Burkina Faso. Sometimes the names “Burkina Faso
Sign Language” (BFSL) or “Langue des signes mossi” are found. Nyst (2010)
lists BFSL in a table stating that it is of local origin. Kamei (2006) and
Sonogo & Kamei (2019) state that a language called “Langue des Signes
d’Afrique” (LSAF) is used in French-speaking countries in West and Central
Africa, including Burkina Faso. This language is thought of as being the
result of language contact between American Sign Language and spoken
French, enriched with local signs. Kamei (2008) described LSAF as an SVO
language which is thought to vary only slightly from country to country
(Sonogo & Kamei 2019).
In this talk I report the results of a small fieldwork carried out in
Burkina Faso where I visited two deaf schools. When it comes to sign
language acquisition, a special situation is found in the country: The
school administrations and teachers reported that they did not know of a
single case of a deaf student who had acquired a sign language at home.
Instead, sign language acquisition starts very late with entering a deaf
Interviews with two deaf students and one deaf teacher revealed that the
sign language used is an ASL-derivate with a basic SVO pattern. The signs
are mainly borrowed from ASL, enriched with some local signs and French
mouthings. This is in line with what was reported in Kamei (2006; 2008) and
Sonogo & Kamei (2019) for other West African countries. I describe the
basic sentence structure of BFSL used in Burkina Faso’s capital
Ouagadougou. I will discuss matters of word order, the formation of
different sentence types, modal verbs, and negation.
*Kamei*, N. (2006).The birth of Langue des Signes Franco-Africaine: Creole
ASL in West and Central French-speaking Africa. In: *Online conference
paper of Languages and Education in Africa Conference*. Oslo: University of
*Kamei*, N. (2008).* On va signer en Langue des Signes d'Afrique
Francophone*. Tokyo: L’Institute de Recherche sur les Languages et Cultures
d’Asie et d’Afrique, Université des Langues Etrangères de Tokyo.
*Nyst*, V. (2010). Sign languages in West Africa. In: Brentari, D. (ed.)*
Sign Languages - A Cambridge language survey. *Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press. 405–432.
*Sanogo*, Y. A. & Kamei, N. (2019). La promotion de la recherche sur la
Langue des Signes par les communautés des Sourds africains: cas de
l’Afrique de l’Ouest et de Centre francophone. * Journal of Cultural
Symbiosis Research*, 13, 5–16.