About TSL Research Group



"Seeing" Language

Spoken languages are communicated by the auditory-oral modality while signed languages are communicated by the visual-gestural modality. Just like spoken languages around the world, signed languages are all different in different communities. Taiwan Sign Language (TSL) is the language used by deaf people in Taiwan, which is different from the sign language used in the United States (American Sign Language) or the sign language used in Japan (Japanese Sign Language or Nihon Shyuwa), although the latter is historically related to TSL.


Just like spoken languages, a sign language is also composed of a lexicon and a grammar.


TSL Research Group


The Taiwan Sign Language research group is led by Prof. James H.-Y. Tai of the Institute of Linguistics at National Chung Cheng University, Taiwan. Other faculty members of the Institute, including Jane Tsay, James Myers, Jung-hsing Chang, and Niina Zhang, all participate in sign language research to different degrees. (See Projects and Publications)


This research group was formed with a research project, "A Study of Taiwanese Sign Language: Phonology, Morphology, Syntax, and A Digital Graphic Dictionary", funded by the National Science Council, Taiwan, in 2001-2005. The principal investigator of this project was James H.-Y. Tai. Since Taiwan Sign Language (TSL) had not been studied systematically, this four-year project aimed at a thorough understanding of the grammar of TSL by compiling a reference grammar of TSL. In addition to the reference grammar, a TSL Online Dictionary was also compiled.


In addition to the faculty, several graduate students have participated in TSL related research projects. (See Members)



The International Symposium on Taiwan Sign Language was hosted in 2003. Experts on TSL and/or other sign languages from abroad, including Jean Ann, Susan Duncan, Scott Liddell, Wayne Smith, and Gladys Tang gave invited presentations.


Visiting scholar: Jean Ann (from September 2005 to January 2006)


The First International Conference of Comparative Study of East Asian Sign Languages was hosted in 2006. Susan Fischer, Gladys Tang, and Qunhu Gong gave invited presentations.


Visiting scholar: Susan Fischer (from November 2007 to December 2007)