SASLJ Vol. 2 No. 2 - Page 41

Sign Language Structure Stokoe, Jr. and touch, close, and up, ‘because’. One or two apparent quadruple sig clusters are perhaps better analyzed as compound signs. 2.21. Another most important morphocherermic feature of the language may be an example of shift. The practice of some signers, particularly those taken as paragons of usage by many, is to make the tab clearly visible in such a sign as ‘see’. Both by approaching the mid-face (really eyes) closely, and by pausing perceptibly between this indication of the tab and the outward motion of the sig these signers achieve a ‘classical’, ‘formal’, or ‘pure’ style of signing much admired but not always followed by a younger generation of sign users. The informal or colloquial style of these latter signers, however, sometimes seems to indicate a structural more than a stylistic change. The writer would analyze the ‘classical’ sign for ‘see’ as mid-face tab, v-dez, and (particularly the platform articulation of the sign) approach sig, followed by outward movement sig: in symbols, m V )f . The much more frequently occurring, informal, or perhaps more recent, sign is composed of zero tab, v-dez, and outward sig: QV f or V f . Apparently signs in very frequent use, sufficiently distinct in dez and sig from other signs, tend to shift from a body tab to zero tab. ‘Know’, to take another example, is formally, or in older signers’ idiolects, upper face tab, flat hand dez, and touch sig: uB × ; but a form often seen is flat hand dez, upward sign, in zero tab: B a^ . 2.3. With configuration of one hand as tab and the same or another configuration of the other hand as dez, the sigs are the interagent motions, or are clusters of sigs beginning with one of these, with separation, linear motion, or interchange as the terminal chereme. 2.4. At this point the aspects of the sign, tab, dez, and sig need to be more precisely defined. These aspects are but ways of looking at phenomena, which to its users is unitary. A sign is the basic unit of the language to the signer, just as the word is the basic unit to the naïve speaker. The original definitions of tab, dez, and sig permit such classifications of the structure of signs as the foregoing: but when two hands are in use, there may be difficulty in deciding whether one had is tab and the other dez or both hands are a double dez in zero tab. This area of doubt can be narrowed by a decision to call one hand the tab when its motion is negligible or minor compared to that of the other hand; and to call both a double dez when they move parallel, symmetrically, or oppositely. The tab-dez analysis seems more likely when the configurations of the hands differ. The double dez is indicated when both are the same; but as some signers make it, the sign ‘show’ is of the latter kind: the flat hand, B, and the index hand, G, meet directly in front of the breastbone and move forward together, the fingertip pressed into the other palm: BG × f . However, others hold up the B, palm outward, touch its palm with the other hand’s G and press it forward. With respect to the touching sig the B is tab and G dez, but with respect to the outward sig the hands together become dez, pushing forward. This might be written cheremically: BG ×( f ) , with the parentheses to show that the hands in contact now act as dez performing the second sig. The double dez, identically configured, in tab zero often requires another symbol, which though written in (second or third) sig place is a morphocheremc, not a cheremic symbol. This is the symbol, ‘~’, for alternating movement of the hands of the double dez. The F-hands held about six inches apart and moved downward, FF v , make the sign which renders English ‘decide’ or ‘decision’. The same double dez moved alternately up and down, FF r~ , makes the sign for ‘if’ or ‘judge’; and again moved alternately to and fro, FF =~ , this double dez makes the sign translated ‘explain’. The double dez hands may operate first as if they were tab and dez with an interagent sig, then move. Such a sign is ‘habit’, the tab zero, dez (double) the fist, first sign cross, and second SASLJ, Vol. 2, No. 2 – Fall/Winter 2018 41