SASLJ Vol. 2 No. 2 - Page 33

Sign Language Structure Stokoe, Jr. FRACTIONS: Simply sign the numerator as shown in the table of numerals, then sign the denominator below the place where the numerator was signed. For decimal fractions, first indicate decimal point by pecking forward with a closed x hand, then sign the numerals sequentially to the right. MONEY: While there is a sign for 'dollar' in the language, it is often omitted, one to nine dollars being signed by the configuration for the number desired moving quickly from prone to supine position. 'Cents' is spelled manually, with few exceptions. (1), (2), (3), (4), (5), (10), and (25) cents (and the synonyms for the latter three values: nickel, dime, and quarter) are signed by first touching the right part of the forehead with g, palm toward the signer, and then signing the numeral in front of the forehead while the hand maintains the same attitude. One to five cents can also be signed with the fingers already forming the configuration when the thumb tip of manual g touches the forehead. The statement of the formation of the ordinals is not exhaustive. The following table of equivalents of the English ordinal and adjective second will show something of the possibilities: Washington was second in the league. Fingers 1, 2 in a horizontal 'V' are drawn from left to right a short distance. What's my grade on the second test. Fingers 1, 2 in a vertical 'V', the hand makes a quick twist or flick in supination. First the bell rang; second the door opened; and then the lights were out. Thumb, finger 1 upraised from fist, thumb vertical, the index of other hand touches Finger 1. The English verb second in a parliamentary context is signed by moving forward the upright forearm, thumb and first finger upraised from the fist. This sign has an interesting antonym: the same configuration swung back (even until the thumb touches the signer’s chest or shoulder in some instances) signifies ‘I’m next’; or ‘I want to follow you’. Manual spelling and numeration as shown operate in part by static presentation of visibly different configurations, in part by motion. In general the static mode of manual symbolizing seems to be used with symbols themselves fairly well fixed, as letters and numerals are; while the symbolization of relationships, such as the ideas expressed by second, tends to find expression in motion. 1.2. In sign language proper the signs always have a component of motion. In fact the structure of signs is identical with that of the two exceptional letters of the manual alphabet j and z. The nature of the symbolizations, however, is radically different. The essential features of z are that the hand having a certain configuration, in a certain place, makes a certain motion. In the context of other alphabetical symbols this action will symbolize simply the letter ‘z’. But when the same configuration, in the same position, is moved in a very slightly different way, the context being signs, the action symbolizes not a letter but the idea expressed in English by the word where. The sign clearly is, as the morpheme, the smallest unit of the language to which meaning attaches. That is, as the foregoing example shows, the significance resides, not in the configuration, the position, or the movement but in the unique combination of all three. The sign-morpheme, however, unlike the word, is seen to be not sequentially but simultaneously produced. Analysis of the sign cannot be segmented in time order but must be aspectual. The aspects of the sign which SASLJ, Vol. 2, No. 2 – Fall/Winter 2018 33