SASLJ Vol. 2 No. 2 - Page 38

Sign Language Structure Stokoe, Jr. pronation the letter p is represented by the same configuration in finger-spelling. As with the ‘H’ described above, the cheremic use of this configuration is quite unlike its alphabetic, and the symbol ‘K’ is used for its cheremic employment. 1.410. The ‘L’ chereme formed by making a right angle with thumb and index finger, the other fingers closed, may have forms appearing identical with some allochers of ‘G’. However the dez and sign (when ‘L’ is tab) make clear the essential features of the ‘L’ are the angle between thumb and finger, or its digital duality, while the essence of ‘G’ is its pointing, or its singularity. 1.411. The bent hand chereme is essentially a dihedral angle at the knuckles. Made with three or four fingers, with thumb folded, across palm, along hand, or extended, this group of configurations clearly contrasts both with the flat hand, ‘B’, with the curved hand, ‘C’, and with the two joined fingers of ‘H’ in its bent allocher. The allochers of the bent hand are all more or less similar to the various individual forms of the manual alphabet m; hence the symbol, ‘M’. 1.412. The crossing of the first two fingers is a distinction configuration permitting only the variations occasioned by the individual signer’s bone and joint strictures. This is the r of the American manual alphabet (x in the Swedish system of finger-spelling, CGC) and since it serves as dez in only a few signs, and those obviously related to its alphabetic use (e.g. ‘rule’, ‘reason’, ‘right’, ‘ready’) it is likely to be a fairly recent addition to the dez list. The symbol for it is ‘R’. 1.413. The v of the alphabet gives us the next configuration, which is the V-for-Victory made famous by Winston Churchill. But while the sign ‘visit’ is an obvious alphabetic coinage, unlike the ‘R’, this configuration, ‘V’, figures in a great many signs with no alphabetic origins. It might be thought to represent the eyes or light rays as the dez in ‘read’ or ‘see’; its use seems quite arbitrary in ‘mean’, ‘purpose’, and ‘misunderstand’; the intersection of the fingers of this configuration is the point of origin when it is tab in ‘begin’; but its obvious duality is apparent in the dez of ‘double’ or ‘twice’. 1.414. The distinctive feature of the chereme 'W' is the extended spread of first, second, and third fingers. There is some overlapping of allochers of this and the chereme 'B'. Whether to assign the configuration made by the four spread fingers, the thumb folded across the palm, to 'W' or 'B' is a problem however only when one is viewing the overall chereme system. The distribution in an informant's sign idiolect is easy enough to determine. 1.415. The bent forefinger raised hookwise from the fist is one of the allochers of the ‘X’ chereme. Another, frequently seen, is formed by bringing the tips of the index finger and thumb together so that the loop thus formed projects from the fist. These two appear to be in free variation. There is another allocher in complementary distribution. When the sig calls for a flicked or snapped opening of this dez it is formed by momentarily trapping the thumb nail under the bent forefinger. 1.416. The last of the manual cheremes is ‘Y’, most commonly seen as thumb and little finger projected oppositely from the fist, but the three fingers between may also be loosely held or even barely bent. A very different looking allocher of ‘Y’ is formed when the spread hand has the middle finger bent in from the knuckle. See ‘morphocheremic change’ below. Two other formations are observed to be used as allochers of ‘Y’. The first described ‘Y’, with the index also extended, is seen along with statistically more normal ‘Y’ as dez of ‘airplane’ and ‘fly in an airplane’. And a configuration not in the American manual alphabet, though it is the h in Australian finger-spelling, appears in some signs. This is formed by keeping the index and little fingers upright from the hand while the other fingers and thumb close. SASLJ, Vol. 2, No. 2 – Fall/Winter 2018 38