I can understand your frustration about the Sign Language Linguistics Community having different names for some things but not for others. I'm in that field and it is frustrating for me as well, but you have to realize that every field has people who agree and disagree. The reason the community "went back" to calling the basic parts within signs a phoneme rather than a chereme is because the definition within the larger linguistics community had changed to where it wasn't necessary to have different words. It used to be that a phoneme was the smallest unit of sound and a sign does not use sound. Chereme was disapproved at the time Stokoe preposed it because it mean the smallest unit of "the hand".
I can understand why you said "if it acts like a noun, signs like a noun, it's a noun", but the reason some (and it isn't necessarily the majority) of sign language linguists are calling them nominals is because they are finding that it doesn't always act like a noun. Not in the way that nouns are defined now.
There are two reasons I didn't mention classifiers. The first is that it wouldn't be a major lexical category, but a subcategory. The second is that there are several disagreements on even which major category it goes under and even what it should be called (and with good reason).
You have to realized that sign language linguistics field is a baby. Many of the first generation sign language linguists are still around. On top of that, there is so much that has not been studied and so much unknown. When you have that there is so much discussion on what is and isn't. Don't let it eat at you because it is honestly just discussion. :-)
Now as far as what Adam Schembri said about the German SignPuddle and lexeme, Maria is right about Adam (and so is Adam). One of the reasons that the SignPuddle dictionaries can't be considered dictionaries in the linguistics sense is that there are multiple entries for the same lexeme. (And lexeme has a very specific definition that doesn't exactly mean what you were talking about, Charles). I personally think that is just fine because we are not trying to be a dictionary in the linguistics sense exactly. We might improve and become closer, but the purposes are completely different. It would be like the "encyclopedia police" saying that the Wikipedia is not an encyclopedia because of various reasons, with one being that it is possible to be written by non-expert of the various fields. I think that is the reason that it is so good (and bad at the same time) because then it makes it so that everyday people can actually get their heads around the subject matters better that way.
Anyway, I agree Maria that we could benefit asking the SLLS list about how they would suggest setting up such a thing for a dictionary, and then we can run with or without it if we wish. :-)
On Jul 3, 2013, at 5:16 AM, Charles Butler wrote:
When the SLLS community has the audacity to call a sign a "phoneme" rather than a "chereme" I have a serious issue with them as a whole rejecting "noun" from the standard definition of "noun - a person, place, or thing such as George Washington, Gallaudet, or cat".
If it acts like a noun, signs like a noun, it's a noun.
The term "classifier" is a term I don't see listed yet. A classifier is a special class of object, it is handshape used to describe certain classes of noun, and a classifier may be different for different languages. The flat hand is used as a classifier, for example, in the ASL verb "WALK" and the "2" classifier used for "DANCE" in LIBRAS.
So sometimes sign linguistics have terms that are unique to sign language, sometimes
When I see the term "literature" being used when the sign language is NOT written down, I cringe. ASL, Stokoe, HamNoSys create literature, a videotape does not. Visual corpus would be more accurate.
I'm just thinking also now - maybe you could have different 'parts of speech' categories and yes maybe avoid the term 'parts of speech' as Adam suggested...Perhaps offer categories that have been identified by sign linguists for sign languages e.g:
1) 'Polycomponential/Classifier Verbs' vs.'Agreement Verbs', 'Plain Verbs' (Padden's 1990 classical classification)
2) maybe use terms such as 'Nominal' and 'verbal' rather than 'noun' and 'verb'
3) maybe you could check your sign as being 'inflectional' vs. 'derivational'
4) maybe include 'bound-morpheme' vs. 'free morpheme' (so that you can enter a list of classifier handshapes into the lexicon/dictionary even though they do not stand on their own etc etc...)
Steve, why don't you send the original email to the sign linguist email list for consultation - you might get some interesting feedback...