SASLJ Vol. 2 No. 2 - Page 35

Sign Language Structure Stokoe, Jr. neck may be touched, pinched, brushed, struck, or approached by the dez in the making of signs. However, examination of many pairs of signs for minimal contrast indicates that some of these markers are but allochers in complimentary distribution. For example, the forefinger of the dez hand can easily brush the tip of the nose in passing across the front of the face, but when the sig is motion outward from the same region, particularly when the dez is such that the sign is interpreted as ‘see’, the signer and viewer tend to think of the marker as the eyes. Since no significance attaches to a contrast solely between nose and eyes as tab, these are analyzed as allochers of the tab mid-face. Their selection is determined by dez and sig. Similar consideration of all the signs observed leads to the isolation of six tabs above the shoulders. The six with the writer’s symbols: the whole face or head h, the upper face or brow u, mid-face m, lower face l, cheek or side face c, and neck k. The signer’s trunk also figures as a tab, but large as this part of the body is relative to the face, it is not divided into smaller regions contrastively, that is cheremically. One or both hands as dez may touch the top of one shoulder with the fingerstips (to make the sign ‘responsible’ or ‘responsibility’). Yet both hands may be placed on the hips (suggesting the kazatsky dancer’s attitude and signifying ‘Russia’). These two signs use the extreme upper and lower allocheric limits of the tab trunk, but the contrast is all in the dez and sig, and not even the whole distance separating the shoulders from the hips is significant. The trunk tab symbol is [. The non-dez arm makes the tab for some signs. The upper arm is tab for ‘hospital’, ‘Scotland’, and the slang expression ‘coke’. It’s symbol is \ . The writer has observed signers occasionally making one or other of these signs as low as the muscle of the forearm, but always in casual, informal circumstances where a colloquial or relaxed manner of speech would be equally congruent. The arm from the elbow outward is used in a different group of sign--that is, with dez or sign different from those of the signs made on the upper arm. And it is used in three contrasting ways, upraised, prone, or supine. The symbol for the upraised forearm, the elbow making an acute angle, is j. The symbols for the last two of these tabs are the same as those used for the movement of dez in pronation, p, or supination, s. Again the aspect is all important. As tab, the symbol s denotes the forearm presented supine; as sig the same symbol denotes that the dez is rotated in supination. In all these arm tabs the hand is ignored by the language; it may be open or closed, tense or relaxed depending on the signer’s habit of signing, his state of mind, or muscle tone. But there are other signs with tabs signaled by the hand opposite to the dez hand in which configuration is the only important consideration. As configurations, these tabs differ not at all from dez configurations. The different is in their use: when the hand having the configuration moves or changes, it is acting as dez; when it acts as point of origin or termination of motion or otherwise marks position, it is acting as tab. Any of the configurations used as a tab may also be used as a dez, but not all dez configurations are used as tabs. 1.40. When the visual aspect of ‘position’, that is the tab chereme, is marked neither by a precise anatomical point nor by difference in attitude, the sole determinant of position is the hand’s configuration. As stated in 1.1 nineteen configurations are used to represent letters in the American manual alphabet. All of these and more might be used as structure points in sign language, but actually only sixteen configurations are used contrastively. However, the number of distinct SASLJ, Vol. 2, No. 2 – Fall/Winter 2018 35