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Sign Language: One-Handed Fingerspelling

  • By: Elísa Gudrún Brynjólfsdóttir & Kristín Lena Thorvaldsdóttir
  • In: The SAGE Deaf Studies Encyclopedia
  • Edited by: Genie Gertz & Patrick Boudreault
  • Subject:Physical Disabilities, Otorhinolaryngology (Ears, Nose, & Throat)

Fingerspelling is a manual representation of the graphemes of spoken languages and can either be one-handed or two-handed. In one-handed fingerspelling only one hand, one handshape, is used to represent each grapheme and in two-handed fingerspelling both hands, two handshapes, represent each grapheme. Each grapheme has its own manual representation and by forming one after another a word from the spoken languages is spelled. Fingerspelling systems were invented by hearing people but these systems have been and are still used by Deaf signers worldwide. The frequency of fingerspelling in sign languages varies between sign languages and often when a word is finger spelled repeatedly the fingerspelling becomes a lexeme.

Fingerspelling is used by many Deaf communities all around the world, but not all, e.g., not in ...

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