Volume 22, Issue 1
  • ISSN 1387-9316
  • E-ISSN: 1569-996X
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Concerted attention in sign language linguistics has focused on finding ways to document signs. Until now, most notation systems rely on a complex plethora of symbols and are under-specific, to the extent that visual images are still the most widely accepted way of recording primary data. This paper presents a novel phonetic notation of handshape in a step towards deriving an International Phonetic Alphabet for sign languages, based on digit shape (configuration) and position in terms of reference coordinates, aiming at both readability and precision. It is sufficiently hybrid to allow for both accurate measurements and estimates of digit positions, thereby affording a way of representing handshapes suitable for lexicography, studying phonetic variation and avatar programming. Originally tailored to describe handshapes in South African Sign Language, it can also notate gestures. After discussing transcription methods and hand physiology, digit configurations are defined in terms of joint angles. Variations in configuration positions are then specified in terms of Cartesian reference coordinates.


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