SASLJ Vol. 2 No. 2 - Page 44

Sign Language Structure Stokoe, Jr. translated in one or more manuals. They are also to be observed still in use by some signers, particularly in lectures, sermons and prayers, or from chair and floor in formal meetings. In colloquial use they have changed. The first, ‘brother’, is least changed; the tab of the second element may appear in readiness even as the first element is signed. The others show more clearly the process of contraction. ‘Son’ becomes uM ×# a ; that is the right hand dez closes thumb to fingers at the brow and turns in supination as it descends. All this is done by the hand in a continuous, smooth motion; the supination and descent component of the motion are all that remain of the sign ‘baby’. The sign for ‘father’ is still more changed in contraction. The tab is still upper face, but the dez may be the spread hand, ‘5’, or a loosely held fist, ‘A’, which opens to the ‘5’. The sigs then are touch and wiggle or touch and open: u5 × e , or uA × ] (the point of contact in both cases being the thumb). This and an analogous contraction, ‘mother’, lA × ] , or l5 × e , in turn give a new (colloquial) compound, ‘parents’: uA × ] /lA × ] . Another contraction is the colloquial ‘lady’, which incidentally seems to have the same kind of distribution with ‘woman’ in class dialects, as do the two words in English. The sign for ‘lady’ as it is usually seen is written in our symbols: l[5 â × ; the thumb of the spread hand brushes the chin as it moves downward to touch the breastbone or collarbone. Here we have a different kind of sign from the other contractions. In ‘son’, colloquial, the sigs of the contraction combine parts of the sigs of both elements, while tab and dez remain those of the first element. In ‘father’ and ‘mother’ the dez is either from the second element, the spread hand, or from the first element of ‘mother’, the thumb-up ‘A’. The tab comes from the first, although the chin, not the cheek is actually grazed in ‘mother’, and the sig is a new motion which suggests or combines in a way both original sigs. In ‘lady’, however, there are actually two tabs. While some signers may make the sign so as to miss grazing the chin with the thumb, the tab is still there for the user of the language; and this sign with its downward motion from the face region will still contrast with ‘fine’ or ‘polite’ in which the 5- dez moves directly, and often from below, to its point of contact on the breastbone. Whether the graze on the chin is real or apparent, the first tab is definitely signaled and l[5 â × or l[5 v × are correct transcriptions, not [5 v × . 2.62. Another example of compounding and contraction will illustrate the morphophonemic change the Y-dez may undergo. The sign for the color yellow 3 is the same in colloquial and formal signing. The y configuration of the right hand is given a twisting shake in zero tab: Y w . ‘Gold’, for which the traditional etymology is ‘earring-yellow’, is formally a pinch on the ear lobe followed by the sign for yellow: cX g :Y w . This sign also has the metonymic meaning ‘California’, and the most frequently observed from of it is a contraction in which the chereme Y has a configuration quite unlike y in appearance. ‘California colloquially is signed: cY × fw . Although shown with three symbols, the sig motion is continuous because the dez configuration permits the touch even as the hand is moving forward and twisting. The Y-dez in this sign and many others has the allocheric configuration of spread hand with only the middle finger bent. The 3 The principle of forming some color signs by shaking or twisting the configuration for the initial letter of the color’s name is older than the American sign language. Pelissier (1856) shows these equivalents: vert, v shaken; jaune, j, i.e. i shaken. But rouge and present ‘red’ is lG â (finger brushes lips); noir, ‘black’, is uB b à (edge of hand moves across brows); and brun, ‘brown’ is cB × @ (edge of hand, palm out, rubs cheek). SASLJ, Vol. 2, No. 2 – Fall/Winter 2018 44