KNSL stands for Kelenala Sign Language (or, in Kelenala, Hokonala). KNSL is a sign language conlang, or CSL. The sign language is based on Kelenala, and was built upon the same principles. Specifically, I came up with a list of 300 or so basic words, and I've come up with signs for them. From that set list of words, the goal is to create a full signed language.

The Kelenala story began while I was teaching a De-CAL at Berkeley in which the students used a word list to create an impromptu pidgin over the course of the semester (here's a link to the Babel Text they created, in case you're interested). The word list had no grammar; the students had to supply it themselves. While this was going on, I always wished that I could get in there and help create. But, I was the one running the experiment; I couldn't contaminate it. So, I came up with the idea for Kelenala.

Fast forward a couple of years, and now I'm a TA for a class on sign language and Deaf culture at UCSD taught by Dr. David Perlmutter. Having taken an ASL course the previous summer, I was already interested in signed languages, when I read a paper by Dr. Perlmutter that gave me the idea to create a sign language IPA, which I call SLIPA. Of course, having an IPA and no language to use it on (or "for", to be less violent) is no good, so I decided to rerun the Kelenala experiment in the medium of sign. This is the result of that experiment.

A word of caution. If this is your first encounter with a signed language, I feel it my duty to inform you that real signed languages are not this simple. If you go back to my description of Kelenala, you'll notice that I was trying to create a creole language. The same is true of KNSL. By definition, a creole is simpler (relatively speaking) than a non-creole language because it hasn't been around as long. The theory is that if a creole is spoken long enough, it will eventually be as complex as any other language. Despite its relatively simplistic grammar, though, a creole is a full language, as opposed to a pidgin, from which a creole comes, which is not a full language.

Having said that, feel free to explore. Bear in mind that it won't be as easy to visualize a signed language without, say, streaming video and pictures (of which I'm not capable). Give it a try, though. Each day affords you with an opportunity to learn something new. And, let's face it: Without learning, life would be too dull to live.

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