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Sign Language Studies

American Annals of the Deaf

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What's Your Sign for Pizza? An Introduction to Variation in American Sign Language

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Chart 5. Linguistic Influences on the Choice of a 1 Handshape Sign

Linguistic influence

Citation form
(one hand)
Noncitation form 1
(L handshape)
Noncitation form 2
(open hand)
Grammatical category Nouns, adjectives, verbs, adverbs, grammatical function signs, wh-signs, and pro.3 favor. Wh-signs and pronouns favor. pro.1 strongly favors; pro.2 is neutral.
  pro.2 slightly and pro.1 strongly disfavor. Nouns, adjectives, verbs, and adverbs disfavor; grammatical function signs are neutral. Signs of all other categories disfavor.
Preceding thumb Closed thumb favors. Open thumb favors. Open thumb favors.
Preceding fingers Closed fingers favor. Closed fingers favor. Open fingers favor.
Preceding index Straight index favors. No significant effect. No significant effect.
Following thumb Closed thumb favors. Open thumb favors. Open thumb favors.
Following fingers Closed fingers favor. Closed fingers favor. Open fingers favor.

Overall

The citation form is the most common (40%), followed by the L handshape (30%) and the open -hand form (25%).

Chart 6. Social Influences on the Choice of a 1 Handshape Sign

Social influence

Citation form
(one hand)
Noncitation form 1
(L handshape)
Noncitation form 2
(open hand)
Age Older and younger signers favor; middle group disfavors. Older signers favor; younger and middle groups disfavor. Older and middle groups favor; younger groups disvaor.
Social class Working-class signers favor slightly; middle-class signers disfavor. No significant effect. No significant effect.
Region California, Kansas/Missouri, Massachusetts, and Louisiana favor; Maryland, Washington, and Virginia disfavor. Maryland, Washington, and Virginia favor; California, Kansas/Missouri, Massachusetts, and Louisiana favor. Maryland, Washington, and Virginia favor; California, Kansas/Missouri, Massachusetts, and Louisiana favor.
Language background No significant effect. No significant effect. Signers from Deaf families disfavor; signers from hearing families favor.


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