The art and science of Glossing with PUDL

Stephen Slevinski slevin at PUDL.INFO
Fri Apr 2 20:01:29 UTC 2004

Hi all,

This will be my last email on glossing.  I am creating a forum on PUDL's
website to discuss the issue so that those who are interested can

PUDL's dictionary has 4 sign languages.  And it is possible to use the
translation and email feature for each language, not just ASL.  These tools
will become more useful as the dictionaries grow.

However, only the ASL and German Sign Language have the alphabet loaded, so
only those langauges will show any fingerspelling for signs that do not

Question... Do other sign languages use fingerspelling?  And why is the
German letter y so crazy with facial expression?  I've seen some fast
fingerspelling, and I can't image the facial expressions keeping up with the
hand.  And I can't imagine paying attention to the shape of the mouth when
the fingers are blurring along.  But then again, my brain has not been
conditioned from birth to interpret visual information into language.  But I

In simple terms, the translation feature uses the sign names that are in the
dictionary for each language.  So the translation simply changes individual
words into signs.  But signs are more than just words.

The definition that I have been using for signed language is "expressive
concepts in space".  It is impossible to use a single word to describe many
signs.  So for glossing, a dash - is used to connect words, such as
me-help-him.  However, this gloss only explains the concept, but not the
expression or the space.  For some signs, it would take a whole paragraph to
desribe exactly what a sign would mean.  A more comples example of a gloss:
me-happy-help-him-right.  This gloss contains expression, concept and space.

So to take full advantage of PUDL's translation feature the signs must exist
in the dictionary with an adequate gloss name.  And the person using the
translation feature must know the names of the signs in the dictionary.

But if glossing is only used in the US and Canada, how can glossing be used
with other sign languages?  It shouldn't be too hard.  The key to glossing
with PUDL is naming the signs in such a way that they contain information
that is expressive, conceptual, and spatial.  And if this naming scheme is
understandable, then the glossing should be relatively easy to use.

-Stephen Slevinski
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