Calculating Frequency of Occurrence of ASL handshapes

Jonathan Henner, Leah C. Geer, Diane Lillo-Martin


Here we discuss an investigation of handshape markedness based on frequency of occurrence in an ASL
database. Using a database of the most frequently used signs in a corpus of child language and other
early-acquired signs we examined the handshapes of approximately 1000 signs by using two annotation
systems, BTS and Stokoe annotation. Results indicate that the distribution of handshape use on the
dominant and non-dominant hands is consistent with the predictions set forth by previous researchers
in their examinations of handshape markedness. Our findings are also consistent with investigations
handshape frequency in other sign languages, suggesting some cross-linguistic comparability in handshape

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