SASLJ Vol. 2 No. 2 - Page 27

Sign Language Structure Stokoe, Jr. different manual alphabet is in use; one which requires both hands to form the letters, and thus one not so easily combined with signs. However, the American sign language, ultimately deriving from the French, has been extended to a larger population more widely dispersed. It therefore has had a quite different development, not the least important factor of which is its relationship to ‘complete’ manual spelling, speech, and lipreading. Total communication behavior is what we would seek to know, but analysis and synthesis are necessary and the present study is directed toward discovering the structure not of the whole communicative complex but of the sign language. The sign language, as the term is understood in this study, requires only a small, though radical, change in the definition of language given by Trager in his ‘Paralanguage’ (SIL, 1958): ‘it is the cultural system which employs certain of (the visible actions of the face and hands,) combines them into recurrent sequences, and arranges these sequences into systematic distribution in relation to each other and in reference to other cultural systems’ (p. 3). The body of the paper will deal first with observed behavior corresponding with phonetic behavior in spoken languages. Then will follow the analysis of this behavior, and the analysis of the structure corresponding with the phonemic level. Next the morpheme list will be considered, then morphemic structure, and an account of the procedures now in use and contemplated for the analysis of the morphology and syntax. Chereme, i.e. /kériym/, and allocher are proposed as names for the concepts corresponding with phoneme and allophone (The combining form, cher-, ‘handy’, as old as Homeric Greek has been preferred to the learned chir- or cheir-). Other terms useful or necessary to avoid confusion or false analogy will be introduced at appropriate parts of the discussion. It seems well to take sign as equivalent to word when the frame of reference is the sign language, or signs. The precise relation of sign to morpheme will be considered in the appropriate section below. As the invention of a symbol system for the transcription of the sign language has had to go hand with the analysis of its structure, the symbology as well as nomenclature will be presented gradatim with the analysis. For convenient reference a summary of the symbols appears in an appendix. 0.3. The writer, after much consideration of the matter, has chosen to present this study over his name alone; but much of the work at all stages since the beginning has been done by two research assistants who might as easily be named co-authors. Carl Gustaf Croneberg and Dorothy Chiyoko Sueoka have analyzed and transcribed data, discussed the determination of the cheremes, and contributed ideas as well as time to the study to the point where it is difficult to determine authorship. In the detailed discussion of the data, however, the sign or notation when necessary will be identified by initials (CGC, DCS, WS). The analysis and conclusions here presented are based on two kinds of observation of signs, extensive: for us all, contact with students, faculty, and visitors of Gallaudet College from every state, Canada, and eight or ten other nations; for CGC several years in a school for the deaf in Sweden and travel in Europe and nine years at Gallaudet as student and teacher; for DCS school for the deaf and several years work with deaf associates in Hawaii as well as four years of graduate and undergraduate work at Gallaudet; for WCS brief formal instruction followed by four years of teaching and research at Gallaudet College;--and intensive: for all of us repeated study of some SASLJ, Vol. 2, No. 2 – Fall/Winter 2018 27