Pidgin sign languages in the Pacific Northwest

sawmill sign language

Thanks to the wonderful language-themed radio series A Way With Words, who give a justified hat tip to Atlas Obscura, we’re led to an article by Robert E. Johnson about “An Extension of Oregon Sawmill Sign Language”.  (Current Anthropology 18(2):353-354, 1977.)

On JSTOR, you can read it for free if you register.

In my dissertation I refer to Meissner and Philpott’s slightly earlier work on PNW sawmill sign languages, which gives a visual lexicon of many dozens of signs.

Johnson’s stuff is new to me, and I’d be intrigued to track down the two additional articles of his listed in its bibliography.

For the moment, I’m just enjoying learning more about non-oral pidgin languages, of which our region had several.  (Aside from the gestures widely, if shallowly, documented as having accompanied Chinook Jargon.)

Happy listening and reading!