ERIC Number: ED123918
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1976-Jan-31
Reference Count: N/A
Gestural Signs in Codes and Languages: Redefining "Nonverbal."
Stokoe, William C.
"Verbal" and "nonverbal" are confused and confusing terms. Gestural phenomena in semiotic use--gSigns--are called nonverbal but work in three major ways, only the first of which is unrelated to the highly encoded (verbal) activity called language. A gSign may: (1) have a general meaning: "yes,""no,""who cares"; (2) be a code substitute for a language element; (3) be part of the direct expression of an inner language structure. The first of these is generally understood as "gesture". The second operates on three levels: (a) A gSign stands for an alphabetic symbol in a fingerspelling code; (b) gSigns encode content words of a language or languages; and (c) gSigns encode content words, function words, and inflectional and derivational affixes of some languages. But language structure itself is nonverbal, if it consists of relationships of units to features, of syntactic domination, and of semantic hierarchies, and if "verbal" refers to the expression of these vocally. Language and its expression are not identical; 999 express it in speech but one in 1,000 in gSigns. "Gesticulation and speech are two outputs of one utterance" (Kendon 1975). Deaf signers use gSigns as speakers use language sounds. Thus gSigns are not "nonverbal" but prelinguistic or fully linguistic behavior. (Author/DB)
Descriptors: Finger Spelling, Language Handicaps, Language Skills, Linguistic Theory, Manual Communication, Nonverbal Communication, Semiotics, Sign Language, Verbal Communication
Linstock Press, 9306 Mintwood Street, Silver Spring, Maryland 20901 (issue $7.00, offprint $0.50)
Publication Type: Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A