What Are These?

The establishment of the six general categories of signs in the Early ASL Database helped us to code prosodic differences and trace historical relationships between signs and their forms. The categories we came up with were:
- Lexemes are defined by our lab as single signs without readily recognizable meaning components
- Indicating signs represent signs such as pronominal forms and determiners
- Borrowings refer to signs with an English word referent including coarticulated fingerspelled forms as well as proper nouns. This category does not include fingerspelled words that do not show coarticulation effects.
- Gestural forms have more transparent connections with their iconic roots and may serve as precursors to more than one modern lexeme. Also included are nonmanual poses or postures.
- Classifier forms can be modified productively to represent an action related to a noun, its size and/or shape, or its state or location.
- Word Phrases are concepts represented by a traditional collocation of two or more signs/words.
The evolution of our gloss classification system is described more fully under “Why Glosses?” Briefly stated here, in the process of building the Early ASL Database, we discovered various types of signs representing different stages of development in the language that needed to be marked for form as well as content.

ALERT: Some search functions for last four categories are under construction.