Who We Are
News & Stories
Sep 30, 2022
August 20, 2023
June 29, 2023
June 24, 2023
University Wide Events
No Communication Compromises
Areas of Study
Changing the world
Community & Innovation
Research Experiences & Services
Your Journey Starts Here
Tools & Resources
Explore Our Campus
Oct 2, 2022
Faculty and Staff
Meaning and the open-8 handshape in ASL: Implicit and explicit categorization
Historically, the field of linguistics has drawn a fundamental delineation between phonology and morphology. The building blocks of language have been divided as independently meaningful (morphology) and independently meaningless (phonology). The relationship between form and meaning is viewed as nearly entirely arbitrary.
However, a growing number of researchers view handshape and other phonological units as meaningful (see Occhino, 2016; Occhino, 2017; Lepic 2015). These form-meaning associations may be quite schematic but do call into question arbitrary phonology.
This study explores the open-8 and related handshapes (8-family handshapes) as gradient meaningful phonological forms. 8-family handshapes were investigated for meaningful correlations based on elicited participant data.
Deaf, ASL fluent participants engaged in teamed and group activities in which they were instructed to organize 8-family signs into meaning-based categories of their own creation. Data were coded for handshape, location, movement, and participant-based meanings.
The findings of this study indicate that phonology does associate with meaning and is not fully arbitrary. Handshape, location, and movement were all found to exhibit patterning in association with certain meaning-based categories.
Phoneme distribution indicates that meaningful associations are gradient, sometimes existing as more arbitrary units and at other times associating more strongly with meaning. These findings support the theory of phonology and morphology as existing on a spectrum, rather than a binary divide.
Fill out our inquiry form for an Admissions Counselor to contact you.
Create an account to start Your Applications.
Already Started an Application? Log in to Submit your completed Application or Check your application status here.
Gallaudet University, chartered in 1864, is a private university for deaf and hard of hearing students.
Copyright © 2022 Gallaudet University. All rights reserved.
800 Florida Avenue NE, Washington, D.C. 20002