Greg A. Witkin, Donna A. Morere & Leah C. Geer. Sign Language Studies. Volume 14, Number 1, Fall 2013, pp. 21-38

  • Copyright 2013 by Gallaudet University Press


Executive functioning, the self-regulatory or control system that governs all cognitive, behavioral, and emotional activity, may be measured by means of a variety of psychological and neuropsychological tests, including tests of verbal fluency. A subset of these tasks, phonemic fluency, requires a person to generate words based on a letter cue (e.g., words that begin with the letter f ). However, such tests are designed for users of spoken language.This article reports on the use of a measure of verbal fluency for American Sign Language (ASL) for which, in addition to the traditional score based on the total number of words produced during the task, an analysis of ASL-based “clusters” (related signs produced in succession) and “switches” (transitions from one cluster to another) was developed. Previous research with standard verbal fluency tasks has suggested that cluster and switching analysis reflects mental flexibility and cognitive search skills.A system for analyzing phonemic clusters in ASL is described, and its application is demonstrated using a case example.

Leah C Geer, Jonathan Henner, & Diane Lillo-Martin. In LSA 2013 Annual Meeting Extended Abstracts

  • Copyright holder: eLanguage


Here we discuss an investigation of handshape markedness based on frequency of occurrence in an ASL database. Using a database of the most frequently used signs in a corpus of child language and other early-acquired signs we examined the handshapes of approximately 1000 signs by using two annotation systems, BTS and Stokoe annotation. Results indicate that the distribution of handshape use on the dominant and non-dominant hands is consistent with the predictions set forth by previous researchers in their examinations of handshape markedness. Our findings are also consistent with investigations handshape frequency in other sign languages, suggesting some cross-linguistic comparability in handshape markedness.

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