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Sign Language: Two-Handed Fingerspelling

  • By: Sharita Sharma
  • In: The SAGE Deaf Studies Encyclopedia
  • Edited by: Genie Gertz & Patrick Boudreault
  • Subject:Physical Disabilities, Otorhinolaryngology (Ears, Nose, & Throat)

Fingerspelling is the manual representation of orthography, where different hand configurations are used to represent letters of the alphabet. It is an integral part of Deaf community and used to fill lexical gaps in a sign language. It is commonly used by signers to introduce spoken language words for which there is no sign equivalent; to spell proper nouns, person names, and place names; to represent abbreviations; to explain a new concept; for emphasis or clarification; and in teaching or learning sign language.

The use of fingerspelling varies from individual to individual depending on age, educational background, geographical region, knowledge of English, and personal preference. Older Deaf people use fingerspelling more than do younger signers. People in northern England and Scotland fingerspell more than those in ...

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