SASLJ Vol. 2 No. 2 - Page 37

Sign Language Structure Stokoe, Jr. chereme, using B for its close, and 5 for its spread forms; also B for dez when the sig requires palmar contact, 5 for dez when sign calls for thumb contact. 1.403. It will be disturbing at first for one familiar with the manual alphabet to see the c and o hands equated; but in signing, as distinguished from spelling, the recorded and observed data leaves no doubt that the sign language does not take the difference as cheremic. Both configurations make a curve, fingers joined and thumb opposed. Symbols: C, C # (#, ‘close’; see 1.54). The allocheric forms of this configuration chereme might be described as the shapes the hand would assume in grasping balls of different sizes. Picking up a grapefruit would require a ‘c’-like configuration. A smaller diameter sphere would let thumb and fingers meet as in spelling o. 1.404. The E chereme is used in relatively few signs, and might perhaps be treated as a tense, retracted allocher ‘C’. Its basic form is the tight closing of the fingers and thumb against the palm; in one form the nails of the aligned fingers rest on the edge of the first joint of the thumb, in another a space separates thumb and fingers, in still another the first two fingers rest on the thumb and the other two fingers are curled into the palm. It's use in such frequently occurring signs on the Gallaudet campus as ‘Europe’, ‘street-car’, ‘emperor’ and the ‘name-sign’ for President Leonard M. Elstad give it the status of a chereme at least in the Gallaudet College dialect of the American sign language. 1.405. The chereme: ‘F’ is clear-cut and easy of isolation, not because it shows any lack of variant forms, but because none of those resemble allochers of other cheremes. ‘F’ is characterized by the joining of thumb and index finger at the tips or by crossing the thumb over the bent index, with the other three fingers extended. 1.406. The pointed index, as would be expected, is frequently used as tab and dez. The forms of this chereme may be close to the manual alphabet’s g, index projecting from the fist; or to its d, index raised, second finger and thumb touching at tips; or to its 1, thumb and index extended from the otherwise closed hand. The symbol adopted for this chereme is ‘G’, though occasionally in transcription ‘D’ may be used to show the allocher resembling the finger-spelled d. 1.407. The index and second fingers extended side by side and touching from the clasped hand also make a distinctive configuration which furnishes the manual alphabet three symbols u, n, and h; but here the difference in the two systems is immediately apparent. Variously presented, pointed up, down, and to the side, the alphabetic configuration is read as three different letter symbols. But sign language uses motion as well as configuration significantly, so that once the hand is moved, this three-way distinction is lost; the three different symbols become one dez, which has meaning only in association with a tab and sign used with it. The symbol ‘H’ is used for this chereme. 1.408. The little finger extended from the fist makes a configuration not easily mistaken for another, although when the thumb is lax or separated it may look like the manual alphabet y. This chereme, designated ‘I’, is used in many frequently occurring signs as dez and in a few as tab. 1.409. The configuration used for k in the manual alphabet actually resembles a Roman letter ‘K’ (when made on the left hand and viewed from the thumb side). The index finger forms the back, the second finger the upper limb and the thumb the lower. With the hand retracted in SASLJ, Vol. 2, No. 2 – Fall/Winter 2018 37