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Sign Languages and the Online World Online Dictionaries & Lexicostatistics

Abstract : Several online dictionaries documenting the lexicon of a variety of sign languages (SLs) are now available. These are rich resources for comparative studies, but there are methodological issues that must be addressed regarding how these resources are used for research purposes. We created a web-based tool for annotating the articulatory features of signs (handshape, location, movement and orientation). Videos from online dictionaries may be embedded in the tool, providing a mechanism for large-scale theoretically-informed sign language annotation. Annotations are saved in a spreadsheet format ready for quantitative and qualitative analyses. Here, we provide proof of concept for the utility of this tool in linguistic analysis. We used the SL adaptation of the Swadesh list (Woodward, 2000) and applied lexicostatistic and phylogenetic methods to a sample of 23 SLs coded using the web-based tool; supplementary historic information was gathered from the Ethnologue of World Languages and other online sources. We report results from the comparison of all articulatory features for four Asian SLs (Chinese, Hong Kong, Taiwanese and Japanese SLs) and from the comparison of handshapes on the entire 23 language sample. Handshape analysis of the entire sample clusters all Asian SLs together, separated from the European, American, and Brazilian SLs in the sample, as historically expected. Within the Asian SL cluster, analyses also show, for example, marginal relatedness between Chinese and Hong Kong SLs.
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https://jeannicod.ccsd.cnrs.fr/ijn_03082152
Contributor : Carlo Geraci <>
Submitted on : Friday, December 18, 2020 - 3:03:14 PM
Last modification on : Friday, July 2, 2021 - 9:58:02 AM

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Shi Yu, Carlo Geraci, Natasha Abner. Sign Languages and the Online World Online Dictionaries & Lexicostatistics. LREC Proceedings (Proceedings of the Eleventh International Conference on Language Resources and Evaluation (LREC 2018), May 2018, Miyazaki, Japan. ⟨ijn_03082152⟩

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