SASLJ Vol. 2 No. 2 - Page 39

Sign Language Structure Stokoe, Jr. 1.42. One most important tab remains to be considered. When no overt signal of position is made, when the sig does not require the dez to move toward or away from any specific body part, when the dez is in a neutral position in front of the signer’s body, when the position is a natural or comfortable one for holding and moving that dez, then the tab is ‘neutral’ or ‘zero’. The symbol used is Q; but when the whole sign is written it is equally clear and easier to show this tab of a great many very frequently used signs by leaving the tab column blank. 1.5. The motional aspect of the sign would present a bewildering maze of movement were it not possible to apply to this visual system the clearly formulated methods of modern structural linguistics. Operating for each user of the language, in the midst of an almost infinite variety of movement, is the principle of significant contrast. 1.51. Circular motion, for example, may be large or small, may lie in any plane the signer’s anatomical limitations permit, may be interrupted or complete; but none of these variations is called upon to carry the primary burden of significance. When a configuration of the non-dez had is tab, the dez circles it as center, the plane of that circle being vertical and perpendicular to the frontal plane of the signer’s body. When the tab is zero or neutral, the circling movement is made in a plane convenient to the dez configuration. When the tab is some other part of the body, it serves as center for the circular sig. But these are aspects of a more or less simultaneous action, and it may be as illuminating to say that the center of the circle which the dez describes serves to locate the tab. The symbol for the circular movement sig is @. 1.52. Some of the other movements of sign language behavior can be reduced to motion essentially vertical, side to side, and to and from. The exactitude with which these approximate directions coincide with the coordinates of three dimensional space is immaterial. Polarity is important, and in some signs the opposite direction of sig motion is used to make a pair of antonyms: ‘borrow’ and ‘lend’ differ in sig only, the motion being respectively toward the signer and away. But both directions may combine in the sig of other signs, as in ‘explain’ where the dez moves to and fro. Each of the three ways of using the sig requires a symbol: "^" up "v" down "~" up and down ">" right "<" left "z" right and left "t" toward "f" away "=" to and fro vertical sig lateral sig to and fro sig 1.53. A similar three-way use is characteristic of the rotation of the forearm. Supination is symbolized by s, pronation by b, and both, or ‘twisting’, by w. These twelve symbols, or four kinds of contrastive motion, with the circle, constitute the grosser sig movements, those made with elbow or shoulder as fulcrum. SASLJ, Vol. 2, No. 2 – Fall/Winter 2018 39