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Constructed sign languages

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  • Shair Ahmed
    Have any of you ever made a constructed sign language? I m thinking of creating one, and I d like to look at some existing constructed ones.
    Message 1 of 52 , Oct 27 7:04 PM
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      Have any of you ever made a constructed sign language? I'm thinking of
      creating one, and I'd like to look at some existing constructed ones.
    • Leland Kusmer
      ... Thanks! ... eight-oh-I , currently... *shrug* I do eventually want to develop the spoken languages of the region, at which point it ll be given a local
      Message 52 of 52 , Nov 3, 2012
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        On Tue, Oct 30, 2012 at 11:51 PM, Alex Fink <000024@...> wrote:
        > Delightful!


        > How, if at all, do you speak the name "8'0i"?

        "eight-oh-I", currently... *shrug* I do eventually want to develop the
        spoken languages of the region, at which point it'll be given a local
        spoken name.

        > Have you given thought to influences of 8'0i on the spoken languages in
        > its territory? In particular, I imagine they can easily calque from it,
        > but do they directly borrow from it, and if so do is this as handsigns in
        > an otherwise spoken matrix or something more nativizing somehow? (Are
        > there, like, "handshape-words" that give the mirror image of initialized
        > borrowings in ASL?)

        I haven't developed these languages, as noted above. Certainly there'll be
        quite a bit of calquing. I imagine that there would also be a kind of
        cross-medium compounding in which a signed modifier is signed simultaneous
        to a spoken head and the two then get lexicalized together as something
        more specific.

        I'd also be interested to explore the way that the prosody of the two might
        interact. I could imagine in the above dual-mode words having a
        polysyllabic signed component result in reduplication of a spoken word with
        fewer syllables, which might eventually obviate the need for the signed
        component in speech.

        > Where did Low get all the extra handshapes, and the wiggling, and the
        > other features that seem like unconditioned splits? Are they survivals
        > from Old that were lost in the poetic tradition that became Classical?

        Yes – survivals from Old that were lost in the poetry. In particular, the
        poetic tradition definitely used a limited set of handshapes. Special
        secondary motion (wiggling, for instance) likely came from a primary motion
        that reduced over time.

        > What is the phonetic content of the index pluraliser /-p/?

        About what you'd expect: a horizontal motion to point at all relevant index

        > What is the notational difference between handshapes 7 and 10, which both
        > look like eights to me?

        Whoops, LaTeX error on my part. 7 and 8 should be /8_/ and /9_/,
        respectively; LaTeX converted that to a subscript closing /.

        Is there a guideline to know which orientation to read signs in if you
        > don't write it? I can't always tell which one's supposed to be natural.

        Orientation marking is the biggest failing of my transcription system, in
        retrospect. If the location is on the body, the palm is towards the body;
        if its in neutral space and one handed, the palm probably faces out; if its
        in neutral space and two handed, the palms probably face each other.

        What sort of subsyllabic affixes or other processes are there that make
        > forms to which rule 2.4 applies? For the other rules I imagine compounding
        > at least provides input.

        Derivational processes, primarily. For instance, /-i/ is a nominalizer
        (giving us /8'0@/ 'say' > /8'0i/). I don't think I have any examples
        currently in the lexicon, but a verb with a handshape change would undergo
        rule 2.4 here.

        > So you've studied sign languages in cross-linguistic perspective, then?
        > I've seen more or less no material on that, and would like to.

        Somewhat. There's very little truly good work on this, in my perspective,
        but my alma matter linguistics department had a good pseudo-Deaf Studies
        track, which I did some of (including a great conference hosted by the
        college) and had a close friend who did all of. I can't seem to find the
        relevant syllabi just now; if I do, I'll send them your way.

        And by the Deaf community, I take it you mean the ASL one? As previous
        > threads have established, the things they find hearing-biased are by far
        > not the ones I might've guessed from a state of no knowledge. Writing
        > one's own language is too hearingy, but imposing a vast layer of
        > initialized relexification on it from English is not?

        Yes, I did mean the ASL one, although IME they like to think that there's a
        pan-Deaf culture of sorts (which is clearly a little silly). I think
        similar considerations apply for the BSL community; less sure about others.

        Again IME, the ASL community actually mostly *does* really oppose
        wide-spread initialization. Some initialization has been in the language
        long enough that it's just part of regional (= school) accent and
        thus definitely a "Deaf" thing, but really initialized speech will get
        criticized for being signed English (even if it's not following English
        syntactic patterns).

        I think a better example is from DGS (German SL), which IIRC basically
        mouths the spoken word alongside nearly every noun and many verbs. It
        doesn't initialize at all, but this mouthing is completely lexicalized.
        That would seem really Hearing-y to me, but neither the German nor the
        American community would see it as such.

        > I suppose a nice feature of your assignment of handshape = C, place = V is
        > that in ASL (and in 8'0i) the set of handshapes seems richer in structure
        > than the set of places. But it still seems not quite as good a fit from
        > the achieving structural isomorphism perspective.

        Mmm, I suppose I agree. A lot hinges on your not marking neutral space,
        which was problematic in my analysis where I encoded primary motion only by
        end-points. For my orthography and language I still think that was the
        right decision, though I recall that, when working on the ASL writing
        system with my Deaf Studies friend, she found this extremely unintuitive.

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